‘I Worked Harder’


Article by Robert Yarbrough Professor, Covenant Theological Seminary

ABSTRACT: “I worked harder than any of them.” Few figures in Scripture labor with the manifest industry of the apostle Paul. Where did such a prodigious work ethic come from? As one steeped in the Old Testament, Paul would have known and loved the many passages in Proverbs commending diligent, skillful labor and warning of idleness. The teaching of Proverbs, together with the mighty working of God’s grace, produced an energy and effort that challenges the trend toward leisure in society today.

For our ongoing series of feature articles for pastors, leaders, and teachers, we asked Robert Yarbrough, professor of New Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary, to profile the work ethic of the apostle Paul.

We all know about COVID and its worldwide spread. Much attention focuses on the number of deaths, and not without justification. But the numbers do grow wearisome — numbers deceased, numbers testing positive, numbers in ICUs, numbers on ventilators, and now numbers vaccinated (or not). Such numbers are a sign of fundamental matters (like human health) amiss.

There is, though, another set of numbers that had become commonplace long before COVID in most locations in the United States, and to an extent worldwide. They too point to something amiss. I’m talking about lottery numbers, featured on various media outlets in most locales. The money squandered on these games of chance is staggering. While this is not the place to debate the wisdom, morality, or possible pros and cons of this form of gambling, I do believe that the popularity of lotteries alerts us to an emerging idol that Christians need to nip in the bud, if they have not already fallen to its worship.

That idol is the love of being idle when it comes to gainful employment, like a job. (You play the lottery so you’ll never have to work again, right?) Or when it comes to labor for the good of others, like being a parent who tends a household and rears children. Or like pastoral ministry, which is typically heavy on self-sacrificial labor for the sake of others.

The idol I am envisioning is the love of leisure when the kingdom of God calls for engaged subjects: douloi (servants, slaves) joyfully (at least much of the time) doing the King’s bidding. It is the love of money for the sake of making habitual downtime and idle enjoyment possible. It is the love of self-indulgence and the exploitation of creation’s goods for personal pleasure rather than for the fulfillment of God’s creation mandate and Christ’s call to discipleship. It is the love of being served rather than of serving. Think cruise-ship getaway.

In remarks below, I want to remind us of key insights from contemporary discussion, from Scripture, and especially from the apostle Paul that will help us maintain a healthy relationship to our work in life rather than skepticism or antagonism toward that work that leads to a harmful gravitation toward idle pursuits that God is unlikely to deem productive or redemptive.

The Worth of Work, with a Warning

Work in the sense of human toil to earn a living has received abundant attention from Christian writers in recent years. A book by my colleague Daniel M. Doriani serves as an example: Work: Its Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation.1 On the back cover, D.A. Carson comments, “The last few years have witnessed a flurry of books that treat a Christian view of work. This is the best of them.” A few years back, Christianity Today carried a story on “reclaiming the honor of manual labor.”2 The article argued for the virtue and indeed necessity of more people learning trades rather than eschewing manual labor and avoiding jobs that demand arduous physical exertion.

Of course, there is barren overwork, a bane to be avoided. Kevin DeYoung has written about it in Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem.3 If you’re too busy to get hold of the book(!), some main points were recently summarized online.4 DeYoung notes that busyness can empty life of joy, impoverish our hearts, and conceal and contribute to a bankrupt soul. When hard work (along with all of life’s other demands) shades over into obsessive hyperactivity, when we pour all our energy and devotion into gainful labor with no time or energy for anything else, we have idolized work, the benefits we plan to receive from it, or both. We need the psalmist’s reminder:

It is in vain that you rise up early
     and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
     for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:2)5

Yet while Scripture warns against work overload, it also models an appeal for God to bless our daily labors, not to rescue us from the need to perform them. The wonderful conclusion to Moses’s sole contribution to the Psalter runs,

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
     and establish the work of our hands upon us;
     yes, establish the work of our hands! (Psalm 90:17)

Duly warned of vesting work with devotion that belongs to God alone, we can still call on him to bless our licit labors. And we are wise to ask, What is work’s value, in God’s eyes?

“Warned of vesting work with devotion that belongs to God alone, we can still call on him to bless our licit labors.”

A considerable literature addresses this from various points of the world-Christian perspective. Esther O. Ayandokun draws on the Bible (along with other resources, both academic and religious) to argue for a work ethic without which the acute problem of poverty will only worsen in her location (Nigeria), where it is already severe.6 She argues that “when working hard is embraced by members of the society, the society will be free of corruption, thuggery, armed robbery, cultism, and other social vices.”7 More broadly, she concludes her survey of what Scripture says on the subject with this observation:

[The] human race can fight poverty as they engage meaningfully in one job, or the other, depending on age, gender, skills, knowledge, and exposure. What is important is that no one should be idle, to the extent that such will only depend on the sweat of others perpetually. Everyone, who is old enough to work, must be employed gainfully. Efficient labour as established in the Scriptures, is a panacea for poverty alleviation; where each person (at work) does his/her best, to enhance production of quality goods, and services rendered.8

While panacea might not be quite the right word, that quotation lines up well with the wisdom on work that Proverbs offers, a wisdom that echoes in Paul’s life and letters.

Work in Paul from Proverbs’ Perspective

The apostle Paul, like other New Testament authors and Jesus himself, affirmed what we call the Old Testament as inspired by God and authoritative. While it is worthwhile to keep in mind views of work prevalent in Greco-Roman spheres or Judaism in the New Testament era,9 the New Testament often draws on the Old Testament to lay a foundation and to push back against the deficient understandings and practices of its day. The grass and flowers of the times wither and fade away, but God’s word endures (1 Peter 1:24–25Isaiah 40:68).

A survey of references to work or labor in Proverbs (using the ESV) reveals principles that play out in Paul’s view of his own apostolic, missionary, and pastoral activities. They are surely worth pondering for our own outlook and practice.

1. God is a worker, and his people labor with and for him.

The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,
     the first of his acts of old. (Proverbs 8:22)

Here divine wisdom is personified, depicting the Lord as the Creator who works. That God is a worker, and that people made in his image are designed to work too, is widely accepted in the literature. This statement is typical: “Paul would have had a full understanding of God as worker, humankind as created for work, work properly done as glorifying God, but work also corruptible by the fall.”10

Accordingly, Paul viewed himself and others as coworkers (ESV “fellow workers,” synergos) with God (1 Corinthians 3:9). Nearly a dozen times, Paul mentions fellow workers; he views this fraternity of work as not merely human-with-human but also people laboring with God alongside, as when he calls Timothy “our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ” (1 Thessalonians 3:2). Paul viewed himself and his wide circle of accomplices as “fellow workers for the kingdom of God” (Colossians 4:11).

2. Hard work is virtuous, and slothfulness is a vice.

From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good,
     and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him. (Proverbs 12:14)

The hand of the diligent will rule,
     while the slothful will be put to forced labor. (Proverbs 12:24)

Both of the passages above commend work by using hand to signify hard, competent, and gainful effort. “The work of a man’s hand” is how Paul described his ministry: “We labor, working with our own hands” (1 Corinthians 4:12). He counseled new converts at Thessalonica “to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). For someone in the church wrestling with the temptation to steal, Paul commanded, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Ephesians 4:28).

“The epitaph of many a failed ministry and minister could be summed up with Proverbs’ words: ‘His hands refused to labor.’”

The point is not that only manual or trade work is of value. It is rather that every believer’s life should be centered on God’s service for the promotion of God’s glory. Since in Paul’s day (as when Proverbs was written centuries earlier) most livelihoods required what we would consider hard physical work, Paul’s word to all believers in all situations was, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23; see also 3:17; 1 Corinthians 10:31). Even allowing for changes over the ages, that is still perfectly understandable and highly applicable whatever our station in life today.

“The slothful will be put to forced labor” expresses the conviction that the lazy run the risk of being commandeered by forces they could have escaped if they had gone to work for God and the good on their own. In Pauline terms, one thinks of his warning that we become slaves to sin if we reject faith in and service for Christ (Romans 6:16).

3. God guides the life direction and outcome of the person who works to honor God.

Commit your work to the Lord,
     and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)

This statement taps into the common canonical conviction of God’s benevolent and personally attuned sovereignty. Those who trust in him will find that he has gone before them; their efforts and labors will prove to have purpose, meaning, and value, because God has overseen and directed their way.

A related conviction is stated a few verses later: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Those who labor in fellowship with the Lord and in accordance with his purposes can be assured of God’s support, assistance, and ultimate vindication, even if one’s assignment ends in seeming disaster (like John the Baptist’s beheading, or Christ’s cross).

Paul’s work was certainly committed “to the Lord.” This is epitomized in the statement “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Paul can exhort the Philippians to practice what Paul taught and modeled, assuring them that “the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).11 Their lives, the plans by which they live them, and the ends to which they strive “will be established,” as Proverbs 16:3 puts it.

When Paul labored in Ephesus, he frankly acknowledged, “There are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9). But he purposes in the very same verse not to flee but to exploit “a wide door for effective work,” as “the Lord permits” (1 Corinthians 16:7). Ministry often proceeds under ominous auspices. But that may be precisely when God’s upholding hand is most vigorously at work.

Sometimes fears are realized and calamity occurs — as Paul and Silas experienced in founding the Philippian congregation: “The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison” (Acts 16:22–23).

This doesn’t sound like a successful church-planting event. But Paul and Silas stood firm in trusting the God they served in Christ’s name. God used their poise and praise (Acts 16:25) to convert the jailer and his household and to establish a congregation. Paul’s unswerving resolve illustrates what it means to minister under the conviction that “your plans will be established.”

4. Idleness is destructive of those who languish in it.

Whoever is slack in his work
     is a brother to him who destroys. (Proverbs 18:9)

The desire of the sluggard kills him,
     for his hands refuse to labor. (Proverbs 21:25)

From different angles, both of these verses warn of the destructive effect of idleness. The person “slack in his work” can probably rationalize it a dozen ways: “It’s Monday; I’m worn out from the weekend” (often a true statement for pastors!). “It’s Friday; I’m gearing up for the weekend” (maybe a prelude to skipping out of work for the golf course, or laying weekend plans to skip church . . . again).

“Half-hearted effort, or doing much less than is possible, is the norm for many, whatever their occupation.”

Half-hearted effort, or doing much less than is possible, is the norm for many, whatever their occupation. I think I see this attitude often in big-box home improvement stores when I need help in hardware or plumbing. It can be impossible to catch the eye of the attendant who is paid to help you. You might have to sprint to catch those who sense you want their help, as they suddenly feel the urge to flee to a distant aisle.

Paul urged churches to “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). The examples of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy served as a public demonstration of how Christians should comport themselves: “You yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:7).

“Slack in his work” and “the sluggard” describe an “idleness” Paul decried:

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. (2 Thessalonians 3:6)

For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. (2 Thessalonians 3:11)

The epitaph of many a failed ministry and minister could be summed up with Proverbs’ words above: “His hands refused to labor.” Failure to expend full effort can be justified in all kinds of ways, from self-care to self-love to a demonstration of the conviction that we’re not saved by works — so we’ll perform works sparingly and sporadically, since they aren’t really required for salvation.

Paul’s example runs the opposite direction. Comparing himself with the other apostles, he speaks of God’s grace toward him, the former persecutor, and avers that this grace “was not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:10). What proof does he point to? “I worked harder than any of” the other apostles, though Paul knows “it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” Because of that very grace, Paul toiled prodigiously, and not for a season or a year but over decades.

5. God is pleased by those who develop and apply the ability to work hard and skillfully.

Do you see a man skillful in his work?
     He will stand before kings;
     he will not stand before obscure men. (Proverbs 22:29)

This is one of my favorite verses in Proverbs. I grew up under a grandfather and father who did tree work — for Davey Tree Expert Company — and as a young man I devoted over six years to full-time tree climbing and timber felling, first for Davey, and then for lumber mills in western Montana and Idaho. For the first quarter-century of my life, I watched workmen come and go — attrition in this trade is high for understandable reasons. Men (at that time I knew of no women who climbed trees or felled timber) who had high standards for their work were rare. Theft of company equipment was common. Avoiding the hard or dangerous roles was the norm. Bosses knew they had to keep a sharp eye out for workers cutting corners or turning in work they did not perform.

In those same years, I observed certain older men who stood out. They were kept on the payroll when others were laid off. The quality of their work set them apart. They were “skillful” (see the Proverbs verse above) in their attitude and execution. Years later, some owned their own companies or had moved to positions of oversight.

Jesus taught, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10). In line with this, Paul taught Timothy and Titus to pay close attention to those whom their social settings regarded as less important people, like women and children and slaves. Paul spends more verses instructing Timothy on widows (1 Timothy 5:3–16) than on any other people group — including overseers! It was vital that Timothy’s care for the flock extend to what Jesus called “the least of these,” rather than majoring on the mighty and the wealthy, who easily attract church leaders’ fullest attention.

Paul knew that church leaders who failed in the pastoral care of the seemingly less significant were unlikely to withstand the pressures and blandishments that come with duties that attract higher public visibility.

In college, a young man training for the ministry was the envy of his classmates. He seemed to have a photographic memory. While others were beating Greek into their heads, not always with success, he would glance at the textbook right before quizzes and ace them all. But after graduation, despite his ability and intelligence, his level of ministry effectiveness fell below potential. Did this go back to being clever and gifted but not “skillful in his work”? Had he perhaps not really learned to work?

In contrast, in that same college there was a fellow student who proved “skillful in his work.” He applied himself with the humor and energetic daily output that he had brought with him from his rural upbringing. He went on to be a highly published Old Testament scholar, professor, and speaker who has built up thousands of students, readers, and pastors in the faith over many decades.

“He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men” was actually fulfilled in the apostle Paul’s life, as God transformed a man zealous to oppress into a man eager “to carry [Christ’s] name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Paul’s consistent, all-out attention to more modest tasks the Lord set before him from the start — like in Damascus immediately proclaiming “Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God’” (Acts 9:20) at great peril to himself — led to a witness that spoke all the way up to kings (Acts 26:2–29).

Paul’s message has continued to challenge people and peoples everywhere, from common folk to global elites, down to this hour. But what about his ethos of unstinting hard work to get that message out?12

Recovering the Pauline Work Ethic

An old saying from previous generations was “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” Today there are desires for leisure like never before and often the technological means to indulge those desires. COVID lockdowns and confinements have likely exacerbated temptations to idleness. It is not easy to find either the will or the means to busy ourselves in ways that sanctify and harness our inner restiveness so that the main thrust of our lives furthers divine ends rather than worldly trivialities.

How many hours weekly do many in the church, including ministers, squander in online activities that are excessive or even illicit? Then there are, for some, still more hours of TV or movies or sports — all justifiable in theory, but in many lives amounting to a replacement of what should consume us: God, the furtherance of his kingdom, and labors that promote his holy and redemptive aims for us. Yes, God grants rest and leisure and recreation in their appropriate place. But many believers at some point wake up to how worthy Christ is of their devotion, not merely sentimentally or “spiritually” but in the expenditure of time and physical energy in ways that social media, ESPN, CNN, FOX, Internet browsing, and other black holes for time wastage cannot monetize. In many cases, we are not only idolizing indolence but paying for the privilege.

“In many cases, we are not only idolizing indolence but paying for the privilege.”

And the higher household income becomes, the more temptation there is for extravagant pursuits to dominate our horizon and make us forget that we are supposed to be “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). As church members, we are under the oversight of those charged with equipping us “for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). The percentage of church members, in most cases, whose notion of equipping goes beyond reasonably regular church attendance is probably impressive — mainly in the sense of appalling.

So what are most Christians doing with most of their discretionary time? And what motivates them as they perform their daily labors? Are we mainly working for the weekend? Do we disappear for hours daily into cyberspace or other fantasy worlds in which we are serving, God knows, neither him nor people?

To put it in a flurry of Pauline declarations and commendations that point to the all-out effort that the gospel spawned in the early church:

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (Romans 12:10–11)

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13)

Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. (Romans 16:6)

Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. (Romans 16:12)

We labor, working with our own hands. (1 Corinthians 4:12)

Always [abound] in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. (1 Corinthians 16:16)

If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. (Philippians 1:22)

It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Colossians 1:29)

Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)13

Let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. (Titus 3:14)

Such references are the tip of an iceberg of the industriousness that characterized those first mobilized by Christ and his gospel. Is this not a dynamic worth upholding now against all countervailing forces? Precisely in our time of unprecedented challenge and peril for Christians worldwide, there is need to reaffirm the conclusion reached in a recent study of Paul’s (high) regard for work:

Failure to work — sloth — represents faithlessness toward God and our neighbor. There is no rank among Christians in the work place, as there is dignity and equality between all who labor and no task for the kingdom that is of lesser importance than any other. As Christians, our work is to sustain and support others and to relieve their burdens, as Paul’s work did, as we work for Christ’s kingdom. Hard work is the norm for the Christian, as it was for Paul, whether manual labor or otherwise, as it is a witness to others of our faith. To be that witness our work should follow the self-giving example of Christ, focused on Him and on others and not ourselves, marked by agape love.14

May God’s gospel grace move many more of us in this direction, smashing all idols of opposition to God’s work through our hands.

  1. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2019. 
  2. Jeff Haanen and Chris Horst, “The Handcrafted Gospel,” Christianity Today, July/August 2014, 66–71. 
  3. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013. 
  4. Kevin DeYoung, “3 Dangers of Busyness,” Crossway (blog), December 9, 2020, https://www.crossway.org/articles/3-dangers-of-busyness/. 
  5. Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references are from the ESV. 
  6. “The imperative of dignity of labour as a panacea for poverty alleviation in Nigeria,” Practical Theology (Baptist College of Theology, Lagos) 7 (2014): 84–110. See also Jude Lulenga Chisanga, “Christian Spirituality of Work: A Survey of Workers in Ndola City, Zambia,” African Ecclesial Review 60, nos. 1/2 (2018): 10–24. 
  7. Ayandokun, “The imperative of dignity of labour,” 100. 
  8. Ayandokun, “The imperative of dignity of labour,” 88–89. 
  9. For this background, see, e.g., Christoph vom Brocke, “Work in the New Testament and in Greco-Roman Antiquity,” in Dignity of Work — Theological and Interdisciplinary Perspectives, ed. Kenneth Mtata, Documentation 56 (Minneapolis, MN: Lutheran University Press, 2011), 25–28. Accessible at https://www.lutheranworld.org/sites/default/files/Doc-56-Dignity_of_Work-EN-low.pdf. 
  10. Alexander Whitaker, “Paul’s Theology of Work,” Puritan Reformed Journal 12, no. 2 (July 2020): 32. 
  11. Annang Asumang, “Perfection of God’s Good Work: The Literary and Pastoral Function of the Theme of ‘Work’ in Philippians,” Conspectus 23, no. 1 (January 2017): 1–55, helpfully unpacks the theme of God’s work in that epistle, along with “not just the inward spiritual transformation of the Philippians, but also its social consequence and the Philippians’ synergistic active participation in” God’s work (42). But stress is laid on God’s provision and enabling, not the work ethic from the human side needed to embody God’s outpoured energies. 
  12. See Akinyemi O. Alawode, “Paul’s biblical patterns of church planting: An effective method to achieve the Great Commission,” HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 76, no. 1 (2020): a5579, https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i1.5579. This study describes concepts, patterns, models, and strategies. But there is no direct mention of the hard effort required for any of this to have worked for Paul or to work today. 
  13. Those who obey this command assiduously know that while it has its joyful aspects, it is nevertheless work. 
  14. Whitaker, “Paul’s Theology of Work,” 41. 

Robert Yarbrough is professor of New Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Author, co-author, or translator of numerous books and articles, he preaches regularly and has also taught extensively on four other continents.


VIDEO The Divine Guarantee of an Eternal Salvation, Part 3

By John MacArthur  Jun 7, 2009

Let’s turn back to Romans chapter 5 tonight. It was a number of months ago that I began to take a look with you at Romans 3, 4, and 5. We sort of really began in the middle of chapter 3 and we end in the middle of chapter 5 because this unit of truth from chapter 3, verse 21, through chapter 5, verse 11, features the glory of the great doctrine of justification by faith. I want to read the opening eleven verses of chapter 5 just to set it in your mind.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.

“For one will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for the good man, someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be being saved by His life. And not only this but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

Now, the theme of these verses, as we’ve been pointing out, is the security of salvation. It is to tell us that what God promises, He is faithful to deliver. If He declares that we have been justified by faith, that is a gift that He gives and does not take it back. We live in a day of unfaithfulness, we’re very used to people telling lies, making promises they do not keep, making promises they never have any intention of keeping. We are very familiar with the fact that people can’t be trusted, they don’t keep their word.

All of us even fail at that point as well. Husbands are unfaithful to their wives, wives unfaithful to their husbands, children unfaithful to their parents and vice-versa, people unfaithful to promises made, unfaithful to responsibilities they have accepted. Christians even unfaithful to the Lord and to each other. This is part of being fallen people living in a fallen world, the terrible sin of being untrustworthy, unfaithful.

But God is above all of that, and God is faithful, and it’s important for us to remind ourselves of that. Deuteronomy 7, verse 9, “Know, therefore, that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God.” The faithful God – this, in contrast to all the unfaithfulness that dominates life in this world, defines God as the absolutely faithful one. Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:13, “He remains faithful because He can’t deny Himself.” What it means is He has to be faithful because being faithful is being consistent with His nature, and because He is God and He is perfect, He is therefore perfectly consistent.

Isaiah says faithfulness is the belt around God’s waist. It is as if faithfulness holds all His attributes together. The psalmist in Psalm 36:5 says, “Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens and your faithfulness to the clouds.” That is, you cannot get past or beyond God’s faithfulness. Jeremiah could only sum it up in Lamentations 3:23 by saying, “Great is your faithfulness,” and he means great in the sense of incomprehensible, infinite. The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 10:23, “He is faithful that promised.” First Corinthians 1:9 says, “God is faithful, by whom you’re called into the fellowship of His Son.”

The faithfulness of God, then – those are just a few samples as extolled from one end of Scripture to the other. Peter even chimes in, 1 Peter 4:19, calling on believers in confidence to commit their souls to God’s keeping because He is a faithful Creator. He is faithful to preserve His people into eternal glory. Listen again to 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely, may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you and He also will bring it to pass.”

Since He called us to eternal glory, He will bring us to that glory. Second Thessalonians 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord.” Our confidence rests in our faithful God. The familiar words of Philippians 1:6: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” That wonderful promise that comes at the end of Jude with which we are all familiar, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior,” et cetera.

So God is faithful, who has called us to Christ, to bring us to final glory. He is faithful to fill His promise, the promise that those who were justified will be glorified, as it’s laid out, you recall, in Romans chapter 8.

So that is the theme of the verses in chapter 5, the first eleven verses. It’s all about the believer’s security because God is faithful. Now, the way God expresses that faithfulness is in an unbreakable chain with spiritual links. We’ve been working through that chain. There are six links in this unbreakable chain that secures us to God. There is peace with God, standing in grace, the hope of glory, the gift of love, the certainty of deliverance, and final joy in God.

Peace, grace, hope, love, deliverance, and joy, those are features of the faithfulness of God that are expressed and delineated to us in the wonder of salvation. Verse 1, we, having been justified by faith, have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s not the peace of God, that’s not a subjective tranquility, that’s an objective truce, a final, permanent, forever peace has been made between the sinner and God, and once the sinner was the enemy of God and God was the enemy of the sinner, and now there’s perfect peace between the two, mediated through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Secondly, there is standing in grace. And this is such a wonderful truth. Verse 2, we have obtained our introduction – or better, access – access by faith into this grace in which we stand. The reason our salvation can never be altered, the reason it can never be forfeited, the reason it could never be taken back is because we have a permanent and lasting peace and because we stand in grace, which means all our sin is dealt with graciously. We live in a spiritual environment of grace. Grace is fully operative all the time, taking care of all our failures and sins. So this is in itself a marvelous, glorious gift.

We also have, looking forward, hope of the glory of God. That is, hope that one day we will attain to the glory of God. This is called glorification – that we are saved to be glorified. We were predestined to be glorified, justified to be glorified, sanctified on the way to being glorified. That is to say, that we were chosen before the foundation of the world for the purpose of eternal glory, not for some intermediate stop. We were not chosen just to be justified or only to be regenerated, we were chosen to be glorified.

We are looking ahead to that great glory. And even the difficulties that come into life test our faith, and when our faith is tested, it stands the test, and so tribulation produces perseverance. Having persevered, your character as a believer is proven, and having proven character enlivens and secures our hope.

And then last time, we kind of wrapped up by talking about the incredible gift of love which becomes our possession, and that is, of course, in verse 5. “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who was given to us.” When you came to salvation in Christ, it was an act of love. You were redeemed by love. It was love that bought you. It was love that called you. It was love that saved you. That is the message of verse 5 through 8, which culminates in verse 8, “God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He loved us so much that He gave His Son to die for us.

His love, then, is demonstrated in the cross and then it is shed abroad in our hearts. It is His love for us. It has an inherent quality to enable us to love Him back and to love others, but it is His love poured out in us that is on the mind of the apostle Paul as he writes, His great love for us first demonstrated in that He loved us when we were yet sinners and enemies of His.

How secure are you? Permanent peace, permanent grace, an undying hope, and a love that is not minimal but literally abounds in our hearts. Love is poured out in our hearts. The language of Ephesians 3 might help to enrich that a little bit. We have been given such immense love. Verse 17 says we are rooted and grounded in love, a love that is difficult to comprehend as to its breadth and length and height and depth because it is the love of Christ, verse 19, Ephesians 3, which surpasses knowledge.

We have a massive impartation of divine love poured into our lives. It is incomprehensible. The verb means you can’t seize it. You can’t make it your own. You can’t capture it. This is a massive, inexplicable love, unlike any kind of human love that anybody would ever know or experience. Nothing can alter it – nothing. All kinds of human love exists and you can just about kill any of them and sometimes it doesn’t take much. But here is a love that us unassailable.

In Romans 8, verse 35, it is a love that neither tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword can alter. It is a love that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will ever be able to separate us from. It is the love of God, from which we cannot be separated.

Now, we’ve been talking about the fact that the battle through the years theologically has been if you’re saved, can you lose your salvation? It is inconceivable that anyone who understands Romans 5 could ever conclude that you could lose your salvation. We have a permanent peace, we stand in a permanent state of grace, we have an everlasting hope determined before the foundation of the world, and we have a love from God poured out to us that is unassailable and unalterable. That is why we have an inheritance undefiled that is laid up for us untarnished in heaven to be received in the future.

The one who secures that love in us, the one who distributes that love, we might say, in our experience, in our worship, in our prayers, and in our ministry is none other than the Holy Spirit who has taken up permanent residence in us as well, even in the most disobedient Christian. Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians that if you are the temple of the Holy Spirit and you join yourself to a harlot, you join Christ to a harlot. Any sin that a believer commits is a sin that involves the indwelling Holy Spirit. He is God’s guarantee, the down payment of our eternal inheritance.

This, by the way, is the first specific mention of the Holy Spirit in the whole book of Romans. The Spirit is given to us to distribute in our experience, all our spiritual experience, this immense love that comes from God through the Spirit to us. That is why, we are reminded in Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit is – what’s the first? – love. The kind of love that believers experience, transmitted to them through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, is far beyond anything an unregenerate person will ever know. All kinds of disappointments can come in this life in our loves. That is a love that never, ever disappoints.

How vast and extensive is this love? Look at verse 6. “While we were still hopeless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.” The point there is it was a love first extended to us, not because we deserved it or earned it, when we were ungodly. It is a kind of love that is very different than the world gives, for one will hardly die for a righteous man. People are so self-protected, self-preserving by nature that they rarely would give up their life for a righteous man, but perhaps for some, their life is willing to be sacrificed for a good man. Certainly through history we see that.

Even today there are people who willingly give up their lives for the sake of some good person. But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. No one does that. Maybe some will die for a righteous person. Maybe some would die for a good person. Nobody dies for a wretched person. Nobody is going to sacrifice his or her life for a wicked, evil person. You don’t give up your life for mass murderers and criminals.

How different is this love of God? And mark it, if He loved you like that when you were ungodly and unworthy and wicked, you’ll never be there again. You have been transformed in the newness of life. If He loved you then, believe me, it’s not difficult for Him to love you now. And that’s the point of verse 9. “Much more than now, having been justified by His blood.” And we’ll stop at that point. Much more does He love us now, when we have been justified, when we now belong to Him.

Christ died for the ungodly, that’s maybe the most important thing to say about the Christian gospel, huper, He died in behalf of, instead of, for the sake of. As it says in Galatians 3, He became a curse for us. This is the uniqueness of God’s love. It is love unlike any other kind of earthly love. It is a love that is commended to people who are yet sinners. This, again, is the message of Ephesians 2, which, of course, is that great gospel passage, Ephesians 2:4: “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” – then this – “even when we were dead in our transgressions.”

That is what sets the love of God apart. He loves those that no one loves, the wretched, the ungodly, the wicked sinners who are utterly undeserving and unworthy. And if He could love us like that when we were not His, when we were enemies, He has no trouble loving us now that we are sons.

There are two more links in the chain that I want to talk about a little bit tonight. We are linked to a faithful God through peace, grace, glory, and love – or hope and love. There are two more links in this. Let’s just look at number five and call it deliverance, but there’s a more important word than that. Deliverance from what? Well, deliverance from wrath – deliverance from wrath. We are, folks – get it – immune to divine wrath. It does not pertain to us. Verses 9 and 10, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved” – future – “from the wrath of God through Him.

Here’s why. “If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more having been reconciled we shall be being saved by His life.” Those two verses are really very, very important. This is a tremendously foundational promise to believers. It’s reiterated in 1 Thessalonians 1:10, which says that we, as believers who have turned to God, wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead – that is Jesus – who rescues us from the wrath to come. This is part of the promise of God to believers, rescue from the wrath to come.

Or 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us.” It goes back to the satisfaction that God had over the sacrifice of Christ. His wrath was fully satisfied against all our sins and, therefore, there is absolute certainty that we are delivered from final wrath, the wrath. Specifically, back to Romans 5, the wrath of God is the lake of fire, eternal hell.

The judgment of Revelation chapter 20 is familiar to us, we know it as the great white throne judgment. “I saw a great white throne, Him who sat upon it from whose presence earth and heaven fled away” – this is in the future – “no place was found for them. I saw the dead, the great, the small, standing before the throne, the books were open. Another book was open, which is the book of life. The dead were judged from the things written in the books according to their deeds. The sea gave up the dead which were in it. Death and Hades gave up the dead in them. They were judged, every one of them, according to their deeds.

“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire, and if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” This is eternal hell where there’s weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. There is darkness. There is isolation. There is the torture of guilt and remorse and no relief forever. We are saved from that.

In 2 Thessalonians, just to make it clear, chapter 1, verse 5. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment. What is His righteous judgment? Jesus will be revealed, verse 7, from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power. This is the final wrath.

God is a God of wrath, we know that. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, Romans 1:18. God’s wrath is not an automatic sort of judgment. There is sowing-and-reaping wrath, but God’s wrath is not an automatic judgment on sin by some kind of anonymous, cosmic force. God’s wrath is an active, intense, personal reaction to sin. And its full fury will come in the final judgment at the great white throne when all who are outside the gospel will be sent to hell.

They are designated Ephesians 2:3 as children of wrath but we, on the contrary, we shall – verse 9, Romans 5 – be saved from the wrath through Him – through Him. How so? Having now been justified by His blood. Because we have been justified, made right with God by the death of Christ, who paid in full the penalty for our sin, we are certain of our deliverance from future wrath. It is the sacrifice of Christ – as we know, we’ve sung about it tonight – which is the true ground of our acceptance with God. Our peace, our grace, our hope of glory, our love, our deliverance are not based on our works, they are based on Christ’s death.

Our justification requires Christ’s blood to be shed. He is the faithful offering, the satisfactory substitute for sinners. And this is what it means when it says His blood, it doesn’t mean the fluid, it means His death – blood is a graphic way to symbolize His sacrifice on the cross.

Now, all of that is prologue, in a sense. It’s beginning to mount here. Verse 9. “Much more then.” It’s wonderful to have peace with God. It’s wonderful to have grace endlessly. It’s wonderful to have the hope of glory. It’s wonderful to be loved by God with a love that cannot die. But more than that, to be delivered from eternal wrath. Now you’re arguing from the lesser to the greater, delivering us from eternal wrath through Him. That’s the pinnacle.

By the way, God never found anything in us that was good enough for that deliverance, never found anything in us that made us worthy, never found anything in us deserving of heaven, deserving of salvation. Don’t kid yourself. You may be a faithful Christian, you may walk the walk. Don’t get the illusion that you bring anything to the issue of salvation – you don’t. Even the best that you do – the best that I do – is mingled with our sinfulness. He saved us for His own glory in spite of us, and He secures us forever and promises deliverance from wrath.

Now, Paul elucidates this point, I think, in a very memorable way in verse 10, “If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” – that’s a very important statement. If when we were enemies Christ’s death could reconcile us to God, much more having already been reconciled, we shall be – the Greek says be being saved by His life. If when we were enemies He could reconcile us by dying, now that we have been reconciled, He can certainly keep us reconciled by living. If He could do what He did through His death, how much more can He do through His life?

This leads us into the priestly ministry of Jesus, “He ever lives to make intercession for us.” The reason we don’t fall away, the reason we don’t abandon faith, the reason we don’t deny Christ, the reason we don’t lose our salvation is because we have a living, interceding High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for us. We were reconciled, you might say, by a dead Christ; we are kept reconciled by a living Christ, who ever lives to secure us into eternal glory.

That is what it says, Hebrews 2:17, “He had to be made like His brethren in all things so that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of His people, and since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” He ever assists us, aids us, guards us, keeps us. This isn’t talking about some mystical experience, this is talking about a divine transaction. If Christ in death can save us, then a living Christ can keep us saved. If we can be saved and reconciled when enemies, we can be secured now that we have become friends.

All of that leads to a final link, a final wondrous reality, which certainly is the culmination of everything, in verse 11, and that’s why he says, “And not only this.” He’s been piling it on a little bit, verse 8, “Much more then.” Verse 10, “much more.” Verse 11, “And not only this.” We’ve now reached the pinnacle. We’ve gone from peace to grace, to hope, to love, to deliverance, and now to joy – now to joy. Not only all these five, but we also exult – remember I told you that word means a kind of joy that is over the top? We also rejoice exceedingly in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

If there is one thing, one emotion, one attitude, one disposition that should dominate the life of a Christian, it is joy – it is joy. What else do you want if this doesn’t bring you joy? What are you holding out for? That’s the issue. Salvation is not merely a future, it is a present joy in anticipation of that future. That is why Paul says, “Rejoice always, and again I say rejoice.” That is why it’s a sin not to have joy. What do you want out of life? More contentment? More comfort? More agreement? More stuff? More what? What is the source of your joy if it’s not this?

Everything else is less than this. Everything else is considerably less than this. Everything else is wood, hay, and stubble. Not only all of these wonderful things, but because of all these wonderful things, we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ because all of them have come to us through this unearned, undeserved reconciliation.

I really do believe that the single greatest mark of spirituality is joy – joy. I’m not talking about silliness, frivolity, kind of a slap-happy attitude, irresponsible mentality that doesn’t take into account serious things. I’m talking about an unassailable, deep-seated, settled joy that nothing in this world circumstantially can move – can’t move it. My soul will make her boast in the Lord, O magnify the Lord with me and let’s exalt His name together. I will rejoice in the Lord, says the psalmist, I will joy in the God of my salvation. I will go to the altar of my God, to God, my exceeding joy.

I think you feel some of that when you sing, don’t you? When you worship? You’re rejoicing in the Lord. This is where your salvation links take you. That’s why you let loose and you sing, O for a thousand tongues to sing, my great Redeemer’s praise. The glories of my God and king, the triumphs of His grace. My gracious master and my God, assist me to proclaim, to spread through all the earth abroad the honors of thy name. Jesus, the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease, it is music in the sinner’s ears, it is life and health and peace.

He speaks and listening to His voice, new life the dead receive, the mournful broken hearts rejoice, the humble poor believe. He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free. His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood avails for me. See all your sins on Jesus laid, the Lamb of God was slain. His soul was once an offering made for every soul – and above all, this verse: Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb, your loosened tongues employ; ye blind, behold your Savior come, and leap, ye lame, for joy.”

There’s nothing to boast about in us, it’s all through our Lord Jesus Christ, and the end of it all is joy. And if your life isn’t dominated by joy, then you’ve lost touch with the greatness of the gifts that come in your salvation. You are secure forever, unalterably so. You have been given divine peace, divine grace, divine hope, divine love, divine deliverance, and divine joy. Do you live like that? Your life and my life should be an endless exuberant act of gratitude to the God who gave us true and everlasting joy.

Father, this passage of Scripture opens up to us again the things that we know and love but so easily slip into theological categories far away from living attitudes and experiences. Restore these things to us, to the front of our minds, and may our worship not be confined to the service in the church when somebody has to lead us. May our worship, may our songs of joy, songs of praise flow out of our minds and hearts at all times as we contemplate the greatness of the elements of our salvation which link us everlastingly to you, our absolutely faithful Lord.

And again we confess that we are unworthy of all of this. We thank you that you loved us when we were ungodly sinners, and now that we are friends, sons, you love us, and that love that saved us secures us. We can trust you and we do and it is joy, unspeakable and full of glory. May that joy reverberate from us, around us, and may it be infectious to all those who see us and know us that we have a joy that is beyond human comprehension because it is tied to a gift that is beyond human attainment, the gift of reconciliation, salvation that you’ve given us.

Fill us with joy and use that joy to be attractive, to draw others to Christ, we pray. Amen.


Teacher placed on leave for opposing transgender pronouns sues Virginia school district

By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter | Monday, June 07, 2021

A sign outside a classroom taken in 2016. | REUTERS/Tami Chappell

A teacher in Virginia has filed a lawsuit against his school district after its leadership put him on leave for rejecting policies that would implement transgender ideology in local schools.

Byron Tanner Cross, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, filed suit last week against the Loudon County School Board for disciplining him for expressing concern over a proposed policy.

Filed in Loudon County Circuit Court, the suit accused the board, Interim Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler and another official of “viewpoint-based retaliation.”

“… this case is not about how schools should treat students who struggle with gender dysphoria,” stated the legal filing. 

“It is about whether public schools can punish a teacher for objecting, as a private citizen, to a proposed policy, in a forum designated for the purpose of considering whether to implement such policies, where the policy would force him to express ideas about human nature, unrelated to the school’s curriculum, that he believes are false.”

Cross is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal nonprofit based in Scottsdale, Arizona, that has successfully argued several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said in a statement that he believes public schools cannot “suspend someone simply for respectfully providing their opinion at a public meeting.”

“The school district favors a certain set of beliefs on a hotly contested issue, and it wants to force Tanner to cry uncle and endorse them as well,” stated Langhofer. “That’s neither legal nor constitutional, and neither was the school’s move to place Tanner on leave.”

Last month, Cross told the Loudoun County School Board at a meeting that he could not “affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa.”

“My name is Tanner Cross, and I am speaking out of love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria,” said Cross at the May 25 meeting.

“I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences. I’m a teacher, but I serve God first and I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion.”

Two days after the meeting, the school informed Cross that he was placed on administrative leave with pay “pending an investigation of allegations that [he] engaged in conduct that had a disruptive impact on the operations of Leesburg Elementary School.”

The proposed policy, known as Policy 8040, would require both staff and students of Loudon schools to use the chosen pronouns of students who identify as transgender or “gender-expansive.”

“LCPS staff shall allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence, regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student’s permanent educational record,” a draft of the policy explains.

“Inadvertent slips in the use of names or pronouns may occur; however, staff or students who intentionally and persistently refuse to respect a student’s gender identity by using the wrong name and gender pronoun are in violation of this policy.”

His attorneys filed a motion for temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction that would halt the school district’s actions against Cross while the lawsuit is adjudicated. 

Cross is not the only Virginia public school teacher recently caught in the controversy over transgender ideology and gender identity in the classroom.

In 2019, a high school French teacher named Peter Vlaming sued the West Point School Board over his firing for using a trans-identified student’s chosen name instead of their preferred pronouns.

West Point Superintendent Laura Abel said in a statement released in December 2018 that they considered Vlaming’s actions discriminatory, noting that the student “felt disrespected.”

“That discrimination then leads to creating a hostile learning environment. And the student had expressed that. The parent had expressed that,” Abel stated at the time.

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AUDIO Battle Of The Ages

By Rev Bill Woods





We look at the Advent Wreath and think how beautiful it is because it reminds us of how wonderful Christmas is with all the beauty, joy and peace of the Season.

Most people don’t really understand the significance of what is represented in our quiet worship of Baby Jesus, and the complex story of the Nativity.

John 3:16-17 (NASB)
16  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
17  “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

There’s a side to the Christmas Story that we usually fail to recognize. 

  • We forget the battle that raged through the ages just to get Jesus here to be our Savior.
  • Jesus was willing to leave Heaven and step into history to be our Savior and save us from sin and Hell.
  • He was opposed by demonic forces every step of the way.

Let’s look at history, or more accurate, HIS STORY.

  • Here’s a scripture we don’t usually associate with Christmas.

Revelation 12:3-4 (NASB)
3  Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.
4  And his tail *swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.
And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

It’s intensely interesting to read how Satan tried to prevent the birth of Jesus Christ and then after His birth to destroy Him before He could reach the Cross and purchase our Redemption.

Satan had accomplished the Fall of Adam and Eve.  (Gen. 3:1-15)

  • Now Satan found himself under the Curse of God and was told the “Seed of woman” would bruise his head. (Gen. 3:14-15)
  • This aroused the enmity of Satan. 
  • He was determined to stop the birth of the promised “Seed,” or if he couldn’t stop it he’d destroy the “Seed” after He was born.

Watch Satan’s line of attack trying to stop the “Promised Seed” that would destroy his work.

Abel was born, the “Seed” was to come through him, Satan schemed for his destruction and finally got his brother Cain to kill him. (Gen. 4:8)

Then the “Sons of God” (fallen angels) doubtless at Satan’s instigation, married the “Daughters of men.”  (Gen. 6:2)

  • Their sin and the evil character of their offspring (Nephilim) caused God to send the flood to destroy life on earth.
  • This fit into Satan’s plan—it would be a victory for him and a defeat for God.
  • God decided to spare the human race and begin again with His one righteous servant, Noah. (Gen 6:8-9) 
  • God spared Noah and his family.

After the flood, Noah planted a vineyard and got himself drunk on the wine. 

  • The result—the curse of Canaan, the son of Ham. (Gen. 9:18-27)

After the flood the people began to multiply and Satan filled their hearts with pride and presumption. 

  • They built the Tower of Babel causing confusion of tongues breaking up the unity of the race. (Gen. 11:1-9)

God called Abraham and the fight narrowed down to his seed, but Sarah was barren.  (Gen. 16:1)

  • God waited until they were too old to have children.
  • Sarah was 65 and barren, Abraham was 75 and they had no children. 
  • Satan probably played a role in Sarah’s inability to conceive. 

Finally when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90 God caused Sarah to conceive and Isaac was born furthering the “Promised Seed.”

When Isaac was 12, Satan challenged God to test Abraham’s faith by sacrificing Isaac. 

  • Similar to the test Job went through.  (Job 1:6-12 and 2:3-6.)
  • The plan to destroy Isaac failed — God saw Abraham was willing to obey, and God intervened and provided a ram. (Gen. 22:11-13)

Isaac married Rebekah, who was barren. (Gen. 25:20-21)

  • Finally twins were born.
  • Satan stirred enmity between the brothers hoping to cause Esau to kill Jacob (like Cain and Abel).  (Gen. 27:41)

When the time came for Moses to be born, Satan inspired Pharaoh to kill all the baby boys at birth, hoping to wipe out the male line of descent altogether. (Exodus 2:5-10)

And so it continued until the death of King Jehoshaphat — his son Jehoram killed all his brothers with a sword reducing the “Seed” down to one life. (2 Chron. 21:13)

  • Jehoram had children.
  • The Arabians killed all of his children but one, Ahaziah, the youngest.          (2 Chron 21:17)

Ahaziah had children (2 Chron 22:1).

  • These were slain by Athaliah who thought she got them all. (2 Chron. 22:10-12)
  • God interceded and saved Joash. (2 Chron. 22:11-12 )

During the Captivity Satan tried to destroy the whole Hebrew nation at the hands of Haman — (Esther 3:5-9)

  • The story’s too long.

God sent prophets to warn people to turn to Him.

  • The last prophet was Malachi.
  • God went silent!

For 400 years there was no Word from the Lord, but He was still faithful and knew what was happening to His people.

  • Sometimes we think God’s silence means He’s deserted us, but trust Him, He’s still aware of your circumstances.

During those 400 years, persecution of the Jewish people continued.

  • In 168 BC Antiochus Epiphanes invaded Jerusalem and marched into the Temple, set up a statue to Zeus, and sacrificed a pig on the altar of incense.

This sparked the Maccabean revolt as the Jews fought to remove the sacrilege from the Temple.

  • Under the leadership of the Maccabees, the Jews drove Antiochus and his army out and gained control of their land for about 100 years.

In 63 BC, the Roman General, Pompey, captured the Holy Land and brought it under Roman rule.

At last the “Promised Seed,” Jesus was born.

  • Satan couldn’t prevent His birth, but he’d destroy Him before He could get to the Cross.

Satan prompted Herod to kill all the male children at Bethlehem under 2 years old in an effort to stop the “Promised Seed.”

  • God warned Joseph. 
  • God’s always one step ahead of Satan.

When Jesus entered the ministry Satan met Him in the Wilderness and suggested He throw Himself from the Pinnacle of the Temple. (Matt. 4:1-11)

Satan tried to get the townspeople to throw Jesus over a cliff after He’d proclaimed to them who He was. (Luke 4:29)

  • 2 storms on Galilee (don’t rebuke a thing only a person)

Satan tried to use the Priests, Pharisees and Sadducees.

  • Judas……..
  • Physical and  Spiritual exhaustion in Gethseme………
  • Arrest, flogging, crucifixion……..

After His death, Jesus spent 3 days in Hell. 

  • Jesus had to experience everything a sinner does in order to fully pay the price of our sin.  (He had to bear our sins and our punishment in order to be our Savior).

Psalm 16:10 (KJV)
10  For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Acts 2:27 (KJV)
27  Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Apostles’ Creed

1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:

2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:

3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:

4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:

5. The third day he rose again from the dead:

6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:

7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:

8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:

9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:

10. The forgiveness of sins:

1l. The resurrection of the body:

12. And the life everlasting. Amen.

Jesus didn’t come to do a half-way job!  – He came to completely redeem us from sin!

The history of the Church has been one long struggle.

  • Satan is still trying to defeat God’s purpose, but Satan will fail at every point!
  • Let’s celebrate the real meaning of Christmas!
  • Not just the financial hemorrhage that so many people dread……

The Angels told the shepherds:  Luke 2:10-11 (KJV)
 Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Talk about a wonderful Christmas Present!                                                                       .   – Not just some trinket that will soon be trash, but forgiveness of sin, fellowship .     with God Almighty, Eternal Life in Heaven with Jesus!

Today we light the last candle representing LOVE! — GOD’S LOVE!

God’s LOVE that constrained Jesus to leave Heaven, step into the human race knowing full well what He had to do and doing it anyway!

He left the Splendor of Heaven
Knowing His destiny
Was the lonely hill of Golgotha
there to lay down His life for me.

if that isn’t love
the ocean is dry
there’s no stars in the sky
and the sparrow can’t fly
if that isn’t love
then Heavens a myth
there’s no feeling like this
if that isn’t love

even in death He remembered
the thief hanging by His side
He spoke with love and compassion
then He took him to Paradise

there’s no feeling like this
if that isn’t love.

No wonder we can sing, JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD IS COME!



The updated version of Rev Bill Woods’ book “There Is Still Power In The Blood” will be available soon.

Living in the Peace of God

By Kelly M. Williams -March 19, 2021

Where to find the peace of God in the circumstances of life

It is possible in spite of great grief, sorrow, loss, discouragement, confusion, pain and broken relationships, to learn how to live in the peace of Jesus and return to peace when ambushed by the anxieties and the brokenness of this life.

All of us battle anxiety.

All of us struggle to live in the peace of Christ. All of us struggle to remain in perfect peace.

However, the Prince of Peace, Jesus, can restore peace to you regardless of how the world around you tries to take it from you.

The apostle Paul told the Philippians in Philippians 4:6 not to be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

If you and I are going to live in peace we have to stop worrying.

That is easier said than done, right? When you are lying on an operating table or sitting at your kitchen table trying to figure out how to make ends meet, or saying goodbye to a love one, or trying to save your marriage or rescue a wayward child. These moments are not easy moments. It is hard in these moments to turn off the mind, to trust the Lord with it, and live out peace in your life.

It is easier to give up, give in and just worry ourselves to death.

The apostle Paul wants to teach us from God’s Word how to break these cycles of worry that create chronic anxiety in our lives that cripple our emotional abilities to function in healthy thought patterns. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:7 that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

You have to let the peace of God guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

How does this take shape in us?

It took me a long time to learn this, but now that I am almost 50 years old, I’m a lot smarter.

I hope.

When you are in the midst of a crisis or consumed by worry, ask yourself this question: Do I want to understand and control my life, or do I want the peace of God?

Here is the catch, you can’t have both. This is the fundamental decision that will determine the level of peace in your life.

I have decided I would rather know that God’s got it than to know what God’s doing in my life.

And when I reach this place, his peace consumes my fear because my control has been released to him. And then I no longer want to know what is going to happen. I am just comforted to know that whatever happens, God’s got it. And more importantly, God’s got me. It is at that moment when his peace passes my understanding.

I would rather have God’s peace in my life than the knowledge of knowing what he is doing in my life.

My knowledge only complicates my life. His peace simplifies my life. It gives me hope, regardless of the circumstances or the eventual outcome. This enables me to return to peace quicker and live out peace in my life more effectively.

As you practice letting go of needing to understand your life, you realize what you think about has a lot to do with how effective you will be at living in the peace of God.

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 that whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy we should think and meditate on.

It is important that you and I practice good mental health.

It is unhealthy to focus on dishonorable, unjust, impure, unlovely, uncommendable, things that lack excellence or are unworthy of praise. However, God wants us to practice healthy things and to think on healthy things.

So, are you practicing what you think about? Are you thinking on healthy things, or do you focus on unhealthy things in your life? Do you focus on how people have wronged you, the relationships that you wish were different but can’t do anything about, and the pain and destruction other people have caused you? Are you getting better or bitter with age? Only you know the answer to that question.

No one wants to be a negative thinking or acting person, but many of us find ourselves in this rut. We feel out of control, which leads to negative feelings, which lead to negative thinking on negative things. This negative thinking eventually leads to negative acting. Once this occurs, our behavior begins to destroy the fabric of our mental health.

Negativity is not a healthy thing to focus on, and it will negatively affect your walk with the Lord and even your physical and mental health over time.

Who in your life models for you good mental health? Paul encourages us in Philippians 4:9 to focus on those people in our lives. We are to put into practice the things we have learned, received, heard and seen in them, and if we do, the peace of God will be with us.

If you and I want to experience the peace of Christ, we have to practice the presence of Christ we have seen lived out in others’ lives. As we do this, we have to remain positive about what God can and will do through us. He tells you in Philippians 4:13 that you can do all things through Christ. What does that mean? It means you can handle success and failure. You can handle gain and loss. You can handle good times and bad times.

Ask God for the strength to do it. He will give it to you. And sometimes that strength will come through the help of others. Paul was grateful for the help he received from the Philippians. He told them in Philippians 4:13 how kind it was for them to share in his troubles. All of us need someone to share in our troubles. It is how God made us.

One of the first things anxiety steals is your attitude of gratitude. It is easy to feel alone, overwhelmed and defeated. It is important you remember how others are with you. Who in your life are you grateful for? Remember them. It will give you the strength you need to go on.

God will give you the strength to do what he has asked you to do and endure what he has asked you to endure. He will bring just the right people in just the right time to help you shoulder what he has asked you to carry in this season. I have experienced this many times in my life over the past 24 years of being a pastor.

We know from Acts that God called Paul to share the gospel in Rome. Philippians 4:22 tells us Paul was effective because he remained faithful regardless of the cost, even if that meant his life.

Paul went to Rome and spent quality time with the Lord in a jail cell. I wonder if he ever thought to himself, So this is what my ministry influence has come to? I expected more in the later years of my life.

Little did he know that Rome would become the vehicle by which God would disperse the gospel to the entire world. As they say, “All roads lead to Rome.” And if all roads lead to Rome, then that means all roads from Rome lead to the entire world.

God used Paul in that little jail cell to send the gospel to the household of Caesar. From there, the household of Caesar took the gospel to the entire world. This is why you and I get to know of Jesus today.

Sometimes looks are deceiving. Sometimes our “insignificant moments” turn out to be our most significant moments in life.

Maybe you feel like Paul may have felt. Maybe you feel like your ministry or the significance of your life has been narrowed to little or nothing of what you expected.

Remember this, God sees, and he hasn’t forgotten what you have done for him.

He remembers and he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

It worked for Paul, and it can work for you too.

Can you say, I don’t understand what God is up to in my life, but I trust him?

If so, the gospel of Jesus Christ will go forth in your life in a more effective way, in spite of the anxiety-filled circumstances of your life, because you have chosen to live a life of peace through the power of Jesus Christ.

Read more from Kelly M. Williams »

VIDEO The Divine Guarantee of an Eternal Salvation, Part 2

By John MacArthur May 31, 2009

Let’s look together at the Word of God in the fifth chapter of Romans as we continue looking at the heart of the book of Romans. We started in chapter 3 and we’re going to get at least into the middle of chapter 5, which really grips the soul of the gospel, and we’ll get as far anyway as chapter 5, verse 11, in the next week, tonight, and next Sunday.

The subject that is addressed in the opening eleven verses of Romans 5 can be summed up in the notion of the security of our salvation. There are many gospel themes in this section. In fact, you can just about take any verse and expand it almost infinitely. “Being justified by faith,” that statement in verse 1, there could be an almost endless series of discussions and instructions on that. The idea of peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, the idea of a faith that enters us into grace in which we stand, the idea of hope, tribulation, perseverance, proven character.

Verse 5, the love of God, the work of the Holy Spirit, and then in verse 6, the marvelous realization that while we were helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly, brings to us the whole essence of in the purposes of God at the right place at the right time, Christ came to be a sacrifice for sin, and it goes on, the demonstration of love at the cross in verse 8, and on and on. This section of Scripture, verses 1 through 11, is loaded with gospel truths, gospel realities.

And in one sense, you might even conclude that you could sort of build this text around a whole lot of different themes. But it seems to me that the core of all of this is, in fact, as we noted for you, the security of our salvation. All the truths that are here connect back to the fact that we have a secure salvation. Peter said in 1 Peter 1:5, “We are kept by the power of God.” We are kept by the power of God, that really says it all. By what means does God wield that power in our behalf? Well, that is what is delineated in these eleven verses.

And I think without question, this is the most comforting doctrine in the panoply of salvation doctrines. It is most comforting to me and to you to know that our salvation is forever, that our salvation is a secure salvation. This takes away the fear and brings joy. The believer’s joy, the believer’s comfort, the believer’s sense of wellbeing, certainly the believer’s hope is anchored to this great security of salvation.

And the security of our salvation is not dependent on us, it is basically dependent on the unchanging character of God and the absolutely limitless power of God to overcome all things for the accomplishment of His own purpose. So this most hopeful, helpful, encouraging of all doctrines, that we are secure in our salvation, is the theme of these eleven verses.

Now, as we noted last time, as Paul moves into this, it is in the flow of the argument of the book of Romans. He has been telling us that all men are under the wrath of God for their sin, that all men are sinners. The only way to be delivered from the wrath of God is by faith in Jesus Christ. You can’t earn it, can’t gain it by merit or ceremony, it comes by grace through faith in Christ alone. The whole message of salvation by grace and faith is illustrated in chapter 4 in the life of Abraham. He is the model that shows us that throughout all redemptive history, salvation has always been by grace by faith.

The question now that would come into the mind of someone hearing this message would be the question, “Is faith enough? Is faith alone enough? What if we sin? Does faith waver? Does faith secure for us at some point in time a relationship with God that is unchanging? These are very normal questions.

As I told you in our last message, the debate about whether salvation is eternal has raged through all of the history of the church, and there are still people on both sides of that issue today. And so it’s not without reason that we assume that Paul recognizes this question will arise immediately. “All right, I’ve put my trust in Jesus Christ, I have been delivered from my sin, I have been forgiven by the provision of Christ on the cross. Is that enough? What if I sin? Is my faith enough to secure permanently this relationship with God until the final day, the final judgment, and will it hold me all the way to the end and lead me into heaven?” Paul’s answer here is absolutely yes – absolutely yes.

And it is not because of something we do. While it is true that we persevere in faith, while it is true that we persevere in obedience, while it is true that we persevere in love for God and love for one another, our faith is not perfect, our obedience is not perfect, our love is not perfect. And those imperfections could raise the question about whether or not we are actually able to hang onto our salvation.

And so it’s wonderful for us to know that even though we do not have a perfect faith or a perfect obedience or a perfect love, we are kept by the perfect power of God. And in this chapter, Paul lays out six elements of the keeping power of God – you might say six great links in the spiritual chain that secures us forever to God.

Now, we looked last time at the beginning in verse 1 and verse 2, and we saw the first two secure links, the first two realities that anchor us, the first two that are promised truths that chain us everlastingly to Christ. Number one, peace with God. “Therefore having been justified by faith,” that drags all of chapter 3 and 4 into chapter 5, that’s what he’s been talking about. We have already been justified by faith; here’s what secures us. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, you remember last time we said that prior to coming to Christ, prior to salvation, every human being is an enemy of God and God is an enemy of every human being. God is at war with sinners and sinners are at war with God. Psalm 7:11 says, “God is angry with the wicked every day.” Whether people are conscious of it or not, whether they think they have respect for God, admiration for God, worship God, believe in God, apart from believing the gospel of Jesus Christ, they are at war with God, and according to Ephesians 2:3, “All men are children of wrath, sons of wrath, headed for eternal judgment.”

However, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that relationship has changed. Peace has been made. God’s anger over our sin has been satisfied because Christ paid the penalty for our sin. Justice being satisfied, anger is satisfied. Christ, according to Ephesians 2:14, is our peace. He is the one who has made peace for us with God. Now we have a new relationship with God. We are no longer at war with God, we are no longer enemies of God. We have a permanent peace because what angered God was our sin, and His anger has been satisfied in the perfect suffering of Christ on our behalf. We are secure, then, because of this relationship of peace with God.

Secondly, Paul introduces us to another very important concept that secures us: standing in grace. Verse 2, “Through whom” – that is, the Lord Jesus Christ – “we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand.” Again, through Christ, through His work on the cross, through His atonement, and through His ever constant intercessory work on our behalf, we have obtained our introduction – or better, our access into grace. We have entered the realm of grace, we live in the sphere where grace operates. We do not live in the sphere law dominates, we are no longer under the law.

We are in a place where grace operates fully, and even though sin exists in our lives, where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. Access, by the way – or introduction, as the NAS has it – is the regular word for ushering someone into the presence of royalty. That is exactly what has happened to us, we have been ushered into the presence of a gracious God. We now have peace with that gracious God, and His grace is abundant, His grace is constant, His grace is limitless on our behalf.

Whenever we fail, whenever we fall short, whenever we sin, grace operates in our behalf. We never step out of the realm of grace back into the realm of law and under another judgment or another punishment or another threat. Our Lord Jesus opened the door to God, ushered us into His presence, and in His presence, grace dominates. We stand in grace.

Now, the third link is the hope of glory, and we see that at the end of verse 2, down through verse 4. Let me read it to you. “And we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulations brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint.” Three times the word “hope” is mentioned here and this is the third in the chain or the links of the chain that tie us everlastingly to our God.

Hope, we live in hope. We have a relationship with God that is permanent peace. We live in a realm of grace which operates immediately whenever we sin and, therefore, we have hope. Hope looks to the future. The believer has a secure salvation going forward because we have been promised glory. We have a pledge from God. And that is exactly what verse 2 at the end is saying. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. We have been given a promise upon which we can hope and that is for eternal glory. We have present peace with God. We have present grace and we have present hope in a glorious future.

Now, you notice the word “exult” in the NAS, it’s the word kauchaomai, it means to rejoice, but it’s more than that. It’s more than rejoicing, it’s kind of a confident boasting. It’s kind of an exultant boasting. It refers to joy at its highest level, a kind of a confident joy, not a superficial one, not an emotional one. Knowing that we’re at peace with God, knowing that we stand in grace, both of those things being true because of the work of Christ, we have no fear for our future. What could go wrong?

Our relationship with God is permanent peace, the realm in which we now exist is permanent grace, what could go wrong? We can confidently boast in the security of our eternal glory. We live, then, with hope in the confidence of heavenly glory. First Timothy 1:1 says, “Our savior and Lord Jesus Christ, who is our hope.” He is our peace, He is the source of our grace, and He is our hope. Our hope in future glory is based on Him, as is everything else.

If you go to 1 Peter 1:18 it says, “You are not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ, for He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory so that your faith and hope are in God.” You cannot have a salvation without hope. You cannot have a salvation without grace. You cannot have a salvation without peace.

You remember in Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17:22, He prayed to the Father that the Father would give to His own the glory which He gave Him. He said, “Give them the glory which you gave me. I have passed it on to them. Father, fulfill it by bringing them to glory.” He prayed that we would all be with Him where He is, that we would see His glory and the glory of the Father. Whatever the Lord Jesus prays, He receives. Whatever He prays, He prays as does the Holy Spirit, according to the will of God. Whatever He prays will be answered.

And so later on in Romans, in the eighth chapter – familiar words – and verse 18, a good place to start, “I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Paul says no matter what goes wrong in this life, no matter how much you suffer, you can’t compare it with the glory that is to be revealed to us. This again is that confident assertion, confident assertion.

Down in verse 24, “In hope we have been saved. Hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he has already seen? But if we hope for what we do not see with perseverance, we wait eagerly for it.” We have this hope. It is not a groundless hope. It is not an unreasonable hope. It is a hope anchored in the promises of God and anchored in the power of God and anchored in the nature of our salvation.

So the confident affirmation of all believers is that we will enter into heavenly glory. And borrowing again the familiar words of John 6, “All that the Father gives to me will come to me, all who come to me I will not turn away, I will keep and I will raise on the last day.” The great fulfillment of our salvation, then, will be brought to manifestation in the glory that is to come, the consummation of our redemption. This is the hope of glory.

Look at Romans 8 again and verse 29, just to tighten down anything that might be loose at this point. Verse 28, you heard quoted by someone in the baptism. We know that God causes all things to work together for good – all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose, to those who are effectually called, savingly called, according to the eternal elective purpose of God. To those who consequently love Him, all things work together for good.

If you could lose your salvation, then that couldn’t be said, could it? It could be said that most things work together for good or some things work together for good, but it would have to be a caveat if it was possible for something to work for bad, but nothing does. Consistent with the purpose of God, the calling of God, the transforming of the heart of the believer to love God, all things work together for good.

Then he spells out what that means. Verse 29, “For those whom He foreknew, He predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” This is the heart and soul of predestination. Before time began, God predestines the elect to be conformed to the image of Christ. Not to start, not to go part of the way, but to go all the way to conformity to Christ. The doctrine of election is not election to salvation, it is election to glorification. If you understand that, then you understand the security of salvation. Those who were chosen before the foundation of the world were not chosen to believe the gospel only, they were chosen to be eternally glorified.

The doctrine of election speaks to the end, not the process. Yes, He foreknew them – that is, He predetermined to know them in an intimate way. He therefore predestined them to become conformed to the image of His Son. And then the process is broken down in verse 30, “Whom He predestined, He called.” That’s the saving call. “Whom He called, He justified and whom He justified, He glorified.” That is unalterable, verse 31. “What shall we then say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? No one can thwart the purposes of God,” that takes you back to verse 28 again, that’s why all things work together for good.

So we live in a secure and confident hope. And having that hope, we can basically endure anything that happens in this life because we know we are kept not by our own ability but by the power of God. Listen to Jude, the benediction at the end of Jude, verses 24 and 25. “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy.” Wow. God is able – again, it goes back to His power, not ours – to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless.

How is it possible that you will one day stand in the presence of God blameless? Because you live in the sphere of grace and in the sphere of grace, sin is constantly being forgiven, constantly being covered. It never accumulates. That is why the relationship can never be breeched or violated or altered or ended. “To the only God, our Savior, He is the One who can do this. To Him be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

Now, that doxology, that benediction, comes at the end of an epistle on the devastating impact of false teaching, corrupt teachers teaching damning lies. And the language of the book of Jude is very, very strong against these evil teachers. “They are,” verse 12, “like hidden reefs in your love feast; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea casting up their own shame-like foam; wandering stars for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.” Very graphic language describing these false teachers.

But even though false teachers pose a massive threat to the church, even though they come into the church – driven by lasciviousness, lust, evil desire – they cannot overthrow the hope of true believers. They will confuse the unconverted and divert the church away from its full blessing, but they cannot overturn the salvation that God has provided.

Now, back to 1 Peter chapter 1, I commented on 1 Peter to begin with, kept by the power of God, or protected by the power of God. I want to go back to that for a minute because somebody is going to raise the question at this point, “Well, look, when we go through our Christian life and we fail and we have trouble and we struggle and all of that, is it any wonder that we have doubts?” Well, certainly we have doubts because doubt is a temptation and a sin. You could be tempted to doubt and consequently doubt and, therefore, it becomes a sin.

You start avoiding the sin of doubt by getting your theology right, correct? I mean if you believe that you could lose your salvation, then doubting that you lose it is consistent with your beliefs. That’s not going to feel like a sin. But if you know what the Bible teaches, that you can never lose it, then you understand the doubt becomes a temptation and succumbing to the temptation becomes a sin. So you have to start with a sound theology. Let’s go back to 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to His great mercy” – listen to this – “has caused us to be born again to a living hope.”

Part of what God gives you in your salvation is hope, a living hope, an undying hope, and it comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This hope is that we will obtain an inheritance – an inheritance. An inheritance and what is the nature of that inheritance? It is imperishable. That is, it is impossible to eliminate this inheritance. It is undefiled, it will not fade away, it is reserved in heaven for you who are – verse 5 – protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Now, the language is explicit, isn’t it? It’s unmistakably clear that we have been born again at the moment of salvation into a hope that cannot die, that hope secured by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, which was the stamp of approval on His work on the cross. We have an inheritance, it cannot perish, it cannot be defiled, it cannot fade away, it is reserved for us, and we are protected by the power of God through faith until the final revelation of salvation at the last time, and the final revelation is glorification.

No, you say, “What about all the trials in life?” Follow, verse 6, “In this you greatly rejoice. Do you not rejoice in that? Do you not rejoice in your living hope? Do you not rejoice in the security of your eternal salvation? Yes, in this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while if necessary you have been distressed by various trials.” The Scripture recognizes that you’re going to have various trials. And in the midst of those trials, you may be tempted to doubt the kindness of God, the goodness of God, the protection of God.

But on the other hand, for a little while if necessary, you’ve been distressed by various trials, not for the purpose of destroying your faith, not for the purpose of ending your faith, weakening your faith, breaking your faith, but just the opposite, verse 7, so that the proof of your faith or so that your faith can be proven.

Now, this brings up an issue that is so important. The greatest gift that a Christian can have is confidence in the permanence of salvation. I’ve said this before, I don’t know how people live in those systems that say you can lose your salvation. As I’ve said to you many times, that would be the most debilitating, discouraging, distressing of all possible notions, to think that I had to keep myself saved. Well, I couldn’t do it, I know that. But to live in the fear of that, in the fear of losing it or having Satan steal it or demons do something to me that would cause it to diminish and that I would go below the line and lose my salvation – talk about depression.

I mean people get depressed for a lot of things far less significant than that. I could understand depression. I could understand heart palpitations, panic attacks on the part of those people who believe you can lose your salvation and live in that kind of mortal fear, that kind of eternal possibility.

But on the other hand, trials come not to break our faith, trials come to prove our faith. And the greatest gift on the other side that a true believer can have is to know that nothing can break faith, nothing can destroy true saving faith because that faith is a gift from God. It is a supernatural thing as Ephesians 2:8 and 9 indicates. So what happens is the opposite, verse 7, “The proof of your faith comes through trials.” What do you mean? You have a severe trial, maybe a physical trial, maybe a family trial, who knows? There are many that come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.

What happens in the midst of those trials is going to test your faith. If you come through the trial, no matter how severe the trial is, with your faith intact, still believing, still trusting, still hoping, still rejoicing, still praising God, then your faith is the real thing. If you go through a trial and you get angry at God, you get mad at God, you abandon the church, you go off in another direction, your faith was never the real thing to start with.

The gift that God gives you in your trial is the proof of your faith. That’s why you thank God for the trial because out the other side, you can say this is the real thing. I looked cancer in the eye, I looked death in the eye, I looked massive disappointment in the face, I looked fear in the face, and I came out with a faith that was unwavering. And so you have the gift that Peter talks about, the proof of your faith, verse 7. Then he says this, “Being more precious than gold, which is perishable, even though tested by fire.” Pure gold, the purest gold refined in the fire isn’t as valuable to a person as the confidence that their faith is the real thing. That’s how you can live your life.

There wouldn’t be any way to compensate for that. If I thought I could lose my salvation, there would be no amount of money, no amount of earthly goods, no amount of earthly experiences, no amount of adventures, no amount of anything this world has to offer that could compensate for the fear that I could lose my salvation. You can take all the rest of that, just give me a living, undying hope and the assurance through trial after trial after trial after trial, seeing my faith strong and stronger, and I will tell you then I know it’s not me, it’s a faith that comes as a gift from God. It’s a supernatural faith that endures, more precious than anything.

And it will be that same faith – end of verse 7 – that will result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you haven’t seen Him, you love Him. Though you don’t see Him now, you believe in Him. You greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of that kind of faith the final salvation of your soul’s eternal glory. We live in hope.

Now, what I showed you in Peter is essentially what Paul says. Let’s go back to Romans chapter 5 for a minute. We’ll build on what Peter says. The end of verse 2, where we are, Paul says we exult or we confidently rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. This is the glory that will be given to us from God, His glory which we will share in heaven. And verse 3, he follows the same line that Peter did. And not only this but we also rejoice in our what? Tribulations. We also rejoice in our tribulations, thlipsis, our pressing together, pressure – very often applied in the New Testament to human suffering, crushing.

We rejoice in this. Why? Because tribulation brings about perseverance. Perseverance brings about proven character, and proven character then produces hope. It’s the same exact pattern. Tribulation comes into our lives. In the midst of tribulation, we respond with endurance, hupomonē, we stay under it. We endure, we remain under the tribulation, we persevere, and out of that experience of perseverance comes proven character, dokimēn, something put to the test and proven. This is exactly what Peter said, and it is our proven character that sustains our hope.

You know, one of the benefits of getting older is that you have accumulated these experiences through life. I don’t know that there’s any trial that I haven’t experienced personally or if not in a personal sense, first-person sense, vicariously through many, many others that you minister to through the years. We’ve been at every conceivable kind of tragedy in the years of ministry, gone through every disappointment that one could go through in one’s own life and then all the lives of the people that surround us. And faith gets stronger and stronger and stronger, and as it does, so does hope – hope burns ever brighter.

Now, those of you who are young, and there are many of you, our church is full of young people, it’s going to take you a while to enjoy the living kind of hope, the kind of shining hope, the kind of expanding hope, the kind of all-encompassing hope that somebody who has been around a long time gets to enjoy. But you’ll get there. Just look for those trials, be thankful through the midst of those trials for the faith that endures, perseveres, demonstrates proven character, and leads to increased hope.

Now, there’s another thing to say about this kind of hope, verse 5. This hope makes not ashamed or, literally, does not disappoint, as the NAS puts it. You never have to be ashamed of it. It’ll never disappoint you. The idea is of someone ashamed because something they trusted failed them. You’re not going to have that. If your faith is real and you’re a genuine believer, at peace with God, standing in grace, the hope that you have will never be disappointed, never.

There are people in the world without hope, Ephesians 2:12, the whole world lives without hope. There are people, according to Proverbs 11:7 that have a deceptive hope. We have a hope that’ll never disappoint. Oh, there are lots of people who have hope in the wrong things, right? Put their hope in another person, put their hope in the money, put their hope in their career, put their hope in their popularity. We have our hope anchored securely in Christ, double anchored, according to Hebrews. We are at peace with God, we stand in grace, we hope for promised glory, and we have a hope that will never disappoint.

There’s one other that I might mention to you, the fourth in these links that chain us everlastingly to our Lord. Let’s just call it the reality of love or the possession of love. Verse 5 says, “Because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” One hymn writer said, “Ever since by faith I saw the stream thy flowing wounds supply, redeeming love has been my theme and shall be until I die.” This verse really escapes words to describe its grandeur. I certainly can’t find them, even Paul couldn’t find them. The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

What this verse is saying is this: Your salvation is secure because God loves you eternally, and He proved it by giving you the Holy Spirit to take up residence in your heart. This is Ephesians 1, isn’t it? In Ephesians chapter 1, there is the confidence of our hope. Verse 14, “The Holy Spirit of promise,” the end of verse 13, “who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession to the praise of His glory.”

The Holy Spirit is the down payment, the Holy Spirit is the arrabon, the engagement ring, the first installment, the promise, the guarantee. This isn’t talking about our love for God, this is talking about God’s love for us. The reason our hope doesn’t disappoint is because God’s love is eternal. The love of God has been poured out within our hearts. How has God poured out love in our hearts? By giving us the Holy Spirit – simply stating another way, by God Himself in His Spirit taking up residence in us.

What love is this? What love is this. Shed abroad in our hearts or poured out within our hearts speaks of lavish, profuse, copious love, literally filling us is this love that is described in chapter 8, again in verse 35. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword? Is that going to separate us?

Verse 37. In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. I’m convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. We have this love of God literally, profusely, lavishly, copiously poured into us by the presence of the Holy Spirit, and we are the temple of the Spirit of God. He lives within us, and there is nothing that can ever reverse that – nothing – nothing.

In the eighth chapter, which we just read earlier in the chapter, verse 9, we’re reminded that having the Spirit of Christ means belonging to Him. “If anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he doesn’t belong to Him.” Conversely, if you belong to Him, you have the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit living in you.

In Ephesians 3, again emphasizing this same wonderful point, verse – well, you could start in verse 13, but go down to verse 19. He says that we can know the love of Christ – Ephesians 3:19 – which surpasses knowledge. How do we know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge? Because earlier he says we have literally been strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, verse 16. We have received the very third person of the Trinity take up residence in us. This is the expression of God’s love for us. And this, you say, would perhaps be possible to forfeit if we did something wrong.

Well, in answer to that, you have verses 6 to 8. Look what it says. “While we were still helpless” – verse 6 – or literally without strength, powerless, impotent – “at the right time, Christ died for the” – what? – “ungodly. For one would hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for the good man, someone would dare even to die.” People don’t die for evil people. They might die for good people. “But God” – verse 8 – “demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Here’s the point: He loved us enough to die for us when we were His enemies.

That answers the dilemma of “Well, you know, maybe He loves us now, but maybe we could do something and He would decide not to love us.” Look, He loved us when we were unlovable. He died for us when we were ungodly, when we were His enemies. Christ died for the ungodly. This love is so staggering. He demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, He died for us. If He loved us when we were sinners, believe me, He can love us when we are sons. If He could love us when we were enemies, He can love us when we are friends. This is the security of our salvation.

It is, as I said, the most marvelous of all biblical doctrines to the believer. He has given us the greatest of gifts: peace, grace, hope, love. All of these are things that are anchored in His person, His power, His promise, not dependent on us and thus does He secure us everlastingly to Himself.

Father, we thank you tonight for the time we’ve had, it seemed to go so rapidly as we were thinking about these great spiritual realities. We rejoice in all the things that are part of our salvation. We never get enough, we never learn enough, we’re never tired or weary of hearing of these glories. May we always wear the helmet of salvation to deflect any attempted blows against the security of that wondrous salvation you have given to us.

We thank you that we’re secure. We live in hope. We live in love. We live in grace. We live in peace. We will ever be at peace with you, we will ever receive your grace, we will ever be hopeful. For we have an inheritance that cannot change and all of this because you love us, and you’ve loved us before we ever loved you, and now that we love you, that love is forever secure. Thank you for this promise, we rest in it, we rejoice in it. We thank you for this great gift. Amen.


Chocolate companies Mars, Nestlé, and Hershey sued for child slavery

Jose Hermosa | TheBL 02/13/21

The victims of the Greater Manchester Abuse Network were between 11 and 17 years old. (Shutterstock)
The LGBT agenda to normalize child abuse is being assisted by mainstream media and social media. A child unrelated cries (Shutterstock)

The well-known multinational chocolate companies Mars, Nestlé, and Hershey, among others, were sued in the United States by eight young people who as children were exploited as slaves on African cocoa plantations.

These young men represent the thousands of children who are recruited each year by trickery and deception, and then trafficked to cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, The Guardian reported on Feb. 12. 

Child slavery in Africa

There they were forced to work for years without pay, without travel documents, and without knowing where they were or how to return home. 

One of them was only 11 years old when he was convinced in his hometown of Kouroussandougou, Mali, that he would be paid $47 a month, but after two years he was paid nothing, according to lawsuit documents. 

As part of his work, he often had to apply toxic pesticides and herbicides, without protective clothing or equipment.

Another plaintiff had scars on his hands and arms from machete accidents. They also had to endure constant insect bites.

Alone, fed little, and long work days

They stated that they were fed little and worked long hours. They were left alone or with children who spoke different dialects.

Among other charges, it is argued that what the children endured is morally repugnant, and that they suffer a “humanitarian catastrophe,” which generates “long-term mental and physical trauma,” according to The Guardian. 

The lawsuit was filed in Washington D.C. by the human rights firm International Rights Advocates (IRA), a first in the United States.

Research from the Department of State, the International Labor Organization, and UNICEF is cited in support of their claims for compensation.

The problem of the enslavement of children in Africa has been denounced for decades, and although the large companies linked to the chocolate industry make promises to combat it, it seems that in practice there is little change. 

Through the Harkin-Engel voluntary protocol, the companies promised to have it solved by 2005, which they failed to do. Now the World Cocoa Foundation, with which the defendants are associated, has moved the date to 2025.

Some 1.56 million children, many as young as 5 years old, are forced to harvest chocolate in the Ivory Coast and Ghana. These countries supply nearly 70% of global consumption, Fortune reported in October 2020. 

The Gates Foundation has at least $32 million invested in the chocolate company Mondelēz, which has been criticized for its use of child labor, according to The Nation.

The investments are made through the Berkshire Hathaway company, in which they own a stake of $11.5 billion.

Additionally, the Gates Foundation donated $32.5 million to the World Cocoa Foundation, an industrial group to which Mondelēz belongs, to improve the lives of farmers, without including measures against child labor.


The Pain Of It All

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II
January 3, 2011

There are not many people I know that like pain. I have met people who enjoy inflicting pain upon others, but thankfully they are the exception rather than the rule. Most people I’ve met would prefer to experience joy and delight.

Pain, which is a distressing sensation, can be a physical suffering or distress from an injury or illness, a mental or emotional suffering or torment. Pain could also be a result of torture or a miserable experience. Of course an extreme worry can cause pain.

Pain is a natural way of our bodies getting our attention. — and it works! That knife blade going deeper in will cause us damage. That person may be violent. That food smells bad. These aren’t pleasant experiences — but we’d be worse off without them.

There are a rare amount of people that do not feel pain, but they can be seriously injured without knowing it.

Pain and suffering are related. Our pain reaction does feel like a reaction — it happens before we think or reflect on what we are experiencing. It feels direct and immediate. But the years we spend in childhood learning about danger and pain — and the fact that our reaction can be triggered due to past experiences — mean that the distinction between pain and suffering can be a slippery one.

Some years ago I heard about an unusual experiment that some scientists conducted. The scientists wired a cage with low level voltage in the bottom of the cage, they put dogs in it and then they closed the door. They sent a current through. It wasn’t enough to harm the dogs but it was enough to inflict some mild pain. You can guess the dog’s reaction. They jumped, they barked, they howled. Well, they kept this up several times a day, but the reaction eventually changed. After a while the dogs barely twitched when the current went through the floor of that cage. They had gotten conditioned to it. In fact, the scientists then opened the cage door, sent the current through the floor and not one dog even tried to leave. It’s as if they’d given up ever getting away from the pain. One last step in the experiment: they put a dog in the cage who had not been conditioned to the current and they left the door open. Well, they turned on the juice and the new dog knew exactly what to do. He ran right out of the cage followed by all the other dogs!

One dog knew what it was to be free; he knew where the hope was. But the one who had become conditioned to a hopeless situation didn’t even try to leave when he could – until one of his own came into that cage and showed him the way out.

And so it is with some of the people around you. They’ve been hurt by bad relationships, broken relationships, selfishness, loneliness, betrayal, but they look around and they see everyone else living in the same stress and confusion and emotional hollowness. And they decide this must be the way it is and the way it always will be. Just like those dogs in that cage.

The only way they’ll find hope in real life is if one of their own comes into their cage and shows them the way out. We want the shock-free environment outside the cage. There are those that find their way out of the cage. Unfortunately, many of us have forgotten the people who are still in there. We work with them, we live around them, and we meet them every day.

There are people you know who are accepting a level of life they should never accept. It’s lonelier, it’s emptier, it’s more disappointing, and it’s more fatal than it was ever meant to be. There is a door that leads out. But they haven’t gone through it yet, maybe because no one has come into their cage to lead them out. Are you the one they are waiting for you?


A Wise and Purposeful Walk

Jan 22 2019 Dr. Carl Hargrove 

A great deal can happen in a second. A hummingbird’s wings flap two hundred times, light travels 186,282 miles, 10.4 million liters of water flow from Victoria Falls, we send 3.4 million emails, and Facebook users create forty-one thousand posts. But, if we increase that time slightly to 1.8 seconds, something exponentially more significant takes place.

Every 1.8 seconds someone dies and enters their eternal destination. By the time you’re done reading this article, over four hundred people will have died. And most will spend an eternity separated from God’s glory and instead experience eternal suffering (Matt 7:13-14).

This gives even a short amount of time, like 1.8 seconds, great significance in our daily lives and decisions. May we all, as Paul says, make the “best use of the time” by walking wisely in the world as lights in the midst of darkness. Let’s see how the apostle describes the life of wisdom in Colossians 4:5-6:

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. – Colossians 4:5-6

Wisdom in the World

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders…”

Balanced Wisdom

Scripture is very clear concerning our relationship to the world. We are not to be like it, love it, or find satisfaction with its offerings. We must prepare for the world to hate us while living in such a way that our lives give testimony to our faith. This spiritual balance calls us to avoid and even hate the world system while at the same time loving the lost souls who are bound by their sinful nature and the evil influence in society. Paul calls believers to walk in wisdom toward outsiders because f inding this spiritual balance requires a great deal of wisdom. And if we don’t discover it, we may fall into the trappings of the world we are to speak against and fail at rescuing sinners from them. Our influence is a spiritual one as we proclaim the gospel as the only means of hope and purpose worth achieving.

Motivated Wisdom

The context of our passage directs us to this purpose. Colossians 3:1-17 acts as the motivating instruction to fulfill the relationships in 3:18 and following. Christ is the supreme example and motivation (vv.1-4), the past habits are to be put to death (vv.5-11), the virtues of the new life must be prominent (vv.12-17), the family codes offer practical direction (3:18-4:1), and the prayers for grace and focus are needed for Paul’s final statement in 4:5-6 (4:2-4). His statement is the ultimate expression of a life motivated by Christ’s example, work, and our transforming salvation.

Purposed Wisdom

The New Testament definition of wisdom is consistent with the Old Testament. It is to live or walk through life with skill. The word carries the idea of having a particular skill and wisdom for life (Ex 28:3; 31:3; 35:31; Dan 5:11). So, to walk in wisdom means that we are called to walk skillfully for the glory of God and our benefit. The theme of wisdom is consistent in Colossians (1:9; 2:3, 8; 3:16) and the New Testament provides a comprehensive view of walking with God (Newness Rom 6:4; Faith 2 Cor 5:7; Governed Gal 6:16; Ro 8:4; Eph 5:8; 2 John 6; Predetermined Eph 2:10; Forsaking Eph 4:17; Loving Eph 5:2; Honoring Col 1:10; Col 2:6; Growing 1 Thes 4:1; Emulating Phil 3:17; 1 John 2:6). These nine features are descriptive of our spiritual journey which lead us to an ultimate objective—to glorify God by living with wisdom toward outsiders.

Ordered Wisdom

After instructing the Colossians in family life, he helps them understand their relationship to those in the world. It is essential that you appreciate the order. The qualifications of an elder illustrate this. He must be qualified spiritually, and a testing ground is his home; so, the church must be spiritually qualified, and its body and family life must be in order before it is truly prepared to reach those on the outside. When you look in the mirror of your life, what wisdom do you speak to your heart? Do you have a sincere and affectionate vision of Christ that motivates you to walk with wisdom in this world?


There is an obvious implication in this call to walk in wisdom—the need for the command because, we, like the Colossians, may choose to live in a manner opposite of wisdom. Or worse yet, we may choose to embrace a pseudo-wisdom. The false teachers were communicating that adherence to their doctrine and regulations was wisdom (skill) for living a religious life (Col 2:4, 8, 16, 18-23). However, Paul makes it evident that this wisdom has no spiritual value whatsoever.

As all religious instruction apart from biblical truth and God’s grace is condemning, so was the error presented at Colossae two thousand years ago, and sadly, many are presented with some form of this delusion today. It is important to understand that Paul’s call to wisdom is not disconnected from the purpose of the letter—to present Christ as the sufficient means of hope and warn against the false teachers’ claims of spirituality and wisdom. If Paul doesn’t distinguish between the wisdom of the world and that of Christ, then the Colossians’ influence in the world would have its basis in a system as verse twenty-three states, that is of no value.

Genuine wisdom desires to seize evangelistic opportunities

“Making the best use of the time…”

There is a redemptive nature in a wise walk. The basis is in a pregnant word which is not the easiest to grasp in this context. Making the most of the opportunity means to live in such a way that occasions to witness for Christ don’t escape our grasp. It is a focus not on time, but on opportunities that arise in life moments. We are to redeem them for Kingdom progress.

It has been said, “Yesterday is a canceled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is the only cash you have—spend it wisely.” We must understand and prepare for evangelistic opportunities (καιρὸν) in life. Be active and ready to respond. Look for doors of evangelism opening before you, and walk through. Avoid always waiting for someone to open those doors for you.

The Gracious Nature of a Wise Walk

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt…”

How does one have gracious speech? This expressive appositional clause helps us understand that gracious speech is needed to take advantage of opportunities presented us. This “salted” speech is engaging and wise and reflects an ability to speak in the moment with a proper tone because of a temperament of grace.

Consider what the Scripture says concerning our relationship to the world with an emphasis on our spiritual influence:

  • Do all things without grumbling or disputing…you appear as lights in the world. (Phil 2:14-15)
  • Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands…so that you will behave properly toward outsiders. (1 Thess 4:11, 12 11)
  • Have a good reputation with those outside the church so that you will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Tim 3:7)
  • Be sound in speech which is beyond reproach so that an opponent may have nothing bad to say about us. (Tit 2:8)
  • By doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. (1 Pet 2:15)
  • Give no offense, seek to please everyone, not for your advantage, but that many might be saved. (1 Cor 10:28-33)

Right before our verses, there is a flow of thought that is also relevant to our speech. Colossians 4:3-4 says, “At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” Success in our speech with those outside the faith begins with our speech to God in prayer.

Our Ultimate Objective

“So that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

Our ultimate objective is to witness for the cause of the gospel as a fulfillment of the Great Commission—to go and make disciples of the nations. And this must be done corporately and personally.

Walking with this purpose must be done with personal awareness. Paul tells us that we are to have what I will call a consummating purpose. Every truth written to the Colossians culminates in this purpose. The message of the gospel is sufficient because it originates from God, is a message about God, and will only be successful through the grace of God. Yet, it must be directed to individuals. We must learn how to take the unwavering, unadulterated, and sufficient truth of the gospel and address it to the needs and objections of people from diverse backgrounds (religiously lost, agnostic, homosexual, liberal, moralist, etc.). Learn to respond to “each person” with the hope of the gospel.

Time Waits for No Man

Moses challenged us to live with purpose in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” When your life is over, what you present to God will be determined by how you chose to walk in wisdom before a dying and needy world. One would think that applying this would be easy because it is straight forward and we are a people who love God and His truth. But it won’t always be easy. There is a pull from the world that can be resisted if you look above (Col 3:1-4) for the motivation to live a wise and purposeful walk.


VIDEO The Divine Guarantee of an Eternal Salvation, Part 1

By John MacArthur May 24, 2009

Well, as you know, we’ve been working our way through the heart of the book of Romans, chapters 3, 4, and tonight we come to chapter 5 – Romans chapter 5. Of course, this is Paul’s great treatment of the gospel, powerful – spiritually powerful, life-transforming truth. And we come, finally, to chapter 5, having looked at least from chapter 3, briefly, the beginning part, but seriously from the middle of the chapter right on through the faith of Abraham in chapter 4, we now come to chapter 5.

And up to now, we have learned that salvation is by faith alone, through grace alone. It is not a matter of law, it is not a matter of works, it is not a matter of human effort. The question that poses itself at this point is: Is it possible, having received this salvation by faith alone, through grace alone, apart from works, it is possible to lose this salvation? Can it be lost? Believe me, this question is a dividing question in the Christian world. It has been literally for centuries, for millennia. People have debated whether our salvation is permanent, whether it is eternally secure or not.

The issue of once-saved-always-saved has been debated literally through the centuries of Christian history. Now, there are some who have taught that salvation must be maintained. You receive it by grace, apart from works, but you keep it by works. In other words, if you fail to obey, or if you openly disobey, you can lose your salvation.

One of the historic groups or denominations or associations that holds to this view is the Salvation Army. I think we all understand the Salvation Army, we see them around at the Christmas season in particular, but Salvation Army has been around for a long time. And here is what it says in the Salvation Army handbook on doctrine, quote: “Some truly converted people have fallen from grace, and the danger of doing so threatens every Christian.”

That is a very serious claim. Do we all live in mortal danger? As Christians, do we all live on the brink of damnation? Is our salvation conditional on our ability to maintain it, to maintain works sufficient to keep it? Is it true that if we fail to maintain those works, salvation is forfeited? That’s the issue. Or on the other hand, is salvation something that cannot be lost?

Now, the reason this issue comes up at the end of chapter 4 kind of goes along this path of thinking: The Jew would say to Paul, “All right, Paul, you say that faith is all that is needed for salvation. Faith is all that is needed. Are you sure it is enough? Are you sure that faith alone can secure that salvation permanently? Are you sure it will work? What about the future? Is faith really enough to escape judgment from God? Can faith alone keep us saved and is faith itself sustained?”

So Paul moves immediately to this issue in chapter 5, and it’s a very powerful chapter, maybe the most convincing chapter in the Bible on the issue of the security of salvation. That’s why we titled the sermon, “The Security of Salvation.” We’re going to begin to look at chapter 5, and truthfully, we’re not even going to get out of verse 1 because Paul presents six great links in the chain that ties the Christian eternally to the Savior. Six great realities which demonstrate the security of salvation by faith, six great truths inherent in salvation, which constitute its eternal character, its eternal nature – and therefore, the divine guarantee.

The six things are familiar to us. There are six gifts that come with salvation. They are six components that define salvation. They are these: peace with God, standing in grace, hope of glory, assurance of love, certainty of deliverance, and joy in God. These are the six articles in the guarantee of your eternal salvation, so we need to learn them well.

None of us is impervious to the assault of the enemy in the matter of our assurance, our confidence, our certainty. All of us at some point (some of us at many points) struggle with doubt, I don’t know if I’m really saved, I don’t know if I still am saved, I don’t know but that I’ve lost my salvation. And whenever you are assaulted with doubt – and you will be assaulted, that’s why you wear the helmet of salvation to protect you from the blows of the enemy as he wants to crush your confidence in your salvation – whenever that assault comes, you retreat to these six principles.

You can doubt what you don’t know, but you need not doubt what you know. So let me help you to know the right things that will mitigate against needless doubt.

The first of these links, the first of these elements, realities in the divine guarantee of an eternal salvation and security, is peace with God. And that’s how the chapter begins. “Therefore, having been justified by faith,” and that sums up everything that’s been said since chapter 3 and verse 21, right on through chapter 4, and having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Therefore” is the way this begins, the truth consequent to the foundation laid in chapter 3, verse 21, through the end of chapter 4, verse 25, justification comes to us by faith. We have been justified by faith; thus (therefore) we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have present possession – present possession, peace. This is not psychological tranquility. This is not positive feelings. This is not feelings of wellbeing. This isn’t feelings at all.

When we talk about peace a lot, we have in mind feelings. You feel peaceful. You feel comfortable. We’re not talking about that here. This is a peace that is not subjective, this is a peace that is objective. This is not talking about some kind of inner tranquility. This has nothing to do with feelings and everything to do with actual relationship. The point is this: Justification by faith in Jesus Christ establishes a new relationship between the believer and holy God. The prior relationship was defined by the fact that we were enemies, enemies of God.

Scripture is clear about that. We – in verse 10 of chapter 5 – read, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” It must be understood that every human being on the planet, apart from salvation, is an enemy of God and God is an enemy of that individual. There is real war. The issue is not our attitude, the issue is not how we feel, the issue is our relationship to God. God is the enemy of the sinner and the sinner is the enemy of God. God is at war with the sinner and the sinner is at war with God.

I was saying to the pastors at the Moody Bible Institute on – I think it was Thursday night when I was ministering there this last week, that the unregenerate hate the Bible. You shouldn’t be surprised if they reject it. You hear people say today, you know, “You can’t just teach the Bible in your church because unbelievers aren’t going to respond to it. So get the Bible out and get something in that they’re going to respond to.”

Well, in the first place, we don’t come together as a church for the sake of unbelievers, we come together as a church for the sake of feeding the flock of God, over which the Lord has given us oversight. But apart from that, we ought not to be surprised that the unbelievers hate the Bible. And even if you repackage the Bible in some other format, unless you strip it of its truthfulness, they’re going to hate that, too. They’re going to hate divine truth in any package because it is the nature of man to hate the Bible because it is the nature of man to hate God.

The sinner by nature hates the truth, both written and incarnate. God is the enemy of the sinner and the sinner is the enemy of God. We read from our Lord Jesus in John 8 that the unregenerate are under the power of Satan. He said, “Your father is the devil.” Ephesians 2 says that the whole world literally is under the power of the prince of the air, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience. First John 5:19, “The whole world lies in the lap of the evil one.” That is the issue. You have people who belong to Satan’s realm, who have Satan’s disposition, who are Satan-driven.

Rejection of the Bible, folks, is not academic, it’s never academic. It is a reflection of the hatred of God that is part of what it means to be fallen. And it’s so powerful – let me give you a little note on that. It is so powerful in fallen man to hate the Bible that it’s residual in Christians, right? When you were saved, your flesh wasn’t eliminated. It’s still there. And one of the elements of your flesh is resistance to the truth of God. So I’m not surprised when people say, “Unbelievers don’t want to hear the Bible,” nor am I surprised when I hear that even believers resist the Scripture because it’s residual in them, too.

But it’s dominant in the unregenerate. They are at war with God and God is at war with them. Exodus 22:24, God says, “My wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with a sword, and your wives will be widows and your children fatherless.” Deuteronomy 32:21, “They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God. They have provoked me to anger with their vanities. I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people. I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation, for a fire is kindled in my anger and will burn unto the lowest hell and consume the earth with her increase and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” That’s how angry God is.

Joshua 23:16, “When you have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God which He commanded you,” that is, disobeyed and resisted His Word, “you’ve gone and served other gods, bowed yourself to them, then shall the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, you shall perish quickly off the good land which He had given you.” Second Kings 22:13, “Great is the wrath of the Lord that has kindled against us because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

Resistance to the Scripture because the Scripture is the revelation of God is resistance to God and God reacts in anger. Isaiah 5, “Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against His people and He has stretched forth His hand against them, smitten them and the hills did tremble. Their carcasses were torn in the midst of the streets, for all this His anger is not turned away but His hand is stretched out still.”

One of the greatest illustrations of this, this built-in fallen animosity to divine truth is Israel. Even though they were the people of God who had been given the oracles of God, the Scripture, they resented it, resisted it, and hated it. In Isaiah 13:9, it says, “Behold, the say of the Lord comes cruel, both with wrath and fierce anger. To lay the land desolate, He will destroy sinners out of it.”

Isaiah 63:3, “I have trodden the winepress alone and of the people there was none with me for I will tread them in my anger, trample them in my fury. Their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, I will stain all my clothing, for the day of vengeance is in my heart and the year of my redeemed is come and I looked and there was none to help and wondered that there was none to uphold. Therefore my own arm brought salvation unto me and my fury upheld me. I will tread down the people in my anger and make them drink in my fury, bring down their strength to the ground.”

Isaiah 66:15, “Behold, the Lord will come with fire, His chariots like a whirlwind to render His anger with fury, His rebuke with flames of fire.” Jeremiah 21:5, “I myself,” says God, “will fight against you with an outstretched hand, with a strong arm, even in anger and fury and in great wrath.” And Nahum 1:2, “God is jealous and the Lord revenges, the Lord revenges, the Lord is furious and reserves wrath for His enemies.”

That’s the condition of the unregenerate. That is to say, you are not on God’s good side, putting it mildly. You may not be that angry with God but God is that angry with sinners – very angry, very angry. The wrath of God, says Romans 1:18, is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Ephesians 5:6, “Let no man deceive you with vain words because of these things comes the wrath of God on the children of disobedience.” Revelation 14 says that men will drink of the wine of the wrath of God which is poured out without mixture in the cup of His indignation.

Psalm 7:11, “God is angry with the wicked every day.” Every day.” That is the way you define the relationship between the unconverted and God. Now, you may never have heard that before, but that’s the truth. That’s why I read you about 20 different scriptures.

What does peace with God mean, then, in that context? It means the war is over, that’s what it means. It means that God is no longer fighting us, no longer our enemy, no longer promising judgment, death, and hell. Peace with God is the new status between God and the believer, which flows from the reconciliation accomplished in Jesus Christ.

Now remember, when Jesus died on the cross, He bore our sins in His own body and God was propitiated. God was satisfied. The penalty of sin was paid in full, nothing left to be paid. That’s why Jesus said, “It is finished.”

In Colossians 1:20 it says, “Through Him,” that is, through Christ, “to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Having made peace through the blood of His cross. Peace with whom? Peace between the sinner and God – peace between the sinner and God. God no longer needs to be angry with us. God no longer needs to punish us because our sins have all been punished. All of God’s anger was spent on Jesus Christ.

So the new reality is a new peace. Instead of being the enemies of God, we’re the friends of God. We’re the sons of God. We’re the beloved of God. God’s wrath toward us, which would ultimately catapult us into eternal hell, is removed, having been fully absorbed and resolved on Christ at the cross. And that’s what verse 1 says, “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” He is the reconciler. He’s the provider of this peace, and certainly He promised this peace.

Back in the gospel of John, a couple of verses you might want to think about. One is in John 10:36. They hated Him, they resented Him, they despised Him. They called Him a blasphemer who said He was the Son of God. This is an illustration of the enemy status, the violent hostility between the sinner and God. And while not all sinners would say that, all sinners find themselves in that situation. They are blasphemers, whether they acknowledge that or not.

In spite of that, Jesus said in the upper room in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled or let it be afraid.” He offers peace, peace with God, which then produces peace in the heart. Objective peace, which then leads to subjective peace. This is a new status. Now, what is important for you to understand that this status change comes because of the cross. Christ’s work being complete, full, the status then is complete. Christ’s work never needed to be repeated, the status never changes. That’s the point.

We have entered into a new dimension, a new kind of relationship with God. God’s wrath is settled, having been spent on Christ. We are at peace with God. Subjective tranquility, subjective calmness of soul, feelings of security flow out of that, but the objective fact is an unchanging reality. We are friends of God, sons of God, brothers of Christ, joint heirs with Him. This is our new status.

Psalm 37:24 says – and this is a promise – “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down for the Lord holds him up.” The new status. Ephesians 6:15 talks about the armor of the Christian and our feet are shod with the gospel of peace. What is the gospel of peace? It is not that Jesus brings you peace of mind, it is that Jesus provides peace with God. It leads to peace of mind. That’s why Ephesians 2:14 says of Christ, “He is our peace. He is our peace.”

Our peace with God was secured by the Prince of Peace. So hear it, my friend, the reason you have peace with God is because God was satisfied with the sacrifice of Christ, paid in full the penalty for your sins. You are now at peace with God, and that is a permanent condition because the sacrifice of Christ rendered it permanent by satisfying in full the wrath of God. If God was not fully satisfied with the work of Christ, there could be no permanent peace. Since God is fully satisfied with the work of Christ, there is permanent peace. That is an unchanging status.

Let me take you to a second one in verse 2. The second link in the chain that eternally binds us to God, the first being peace, the second is grace – standing in grace. This is just magnificent. Through whom, referring back to our Lord Jesus Christ, also not only peace with God, but also we have obtained our introduction by faith, always by faith, verse 1, justified by faith, verse 2, our introduction by faith, into this grace in which we stand.

First link, peace with God; second link, standing in grace – standing in grace. This truth is so rich that its boundaries are inconceivable and certainly untouchable. It is a vast, profound reality.

I want to see if I can expand you a little bit as you think about – by whom, or through whom, meaning Jesus Christ, the antecedent, the end of verse 1, everything comes salvifically through Him, everything is because of Him. Everything comes through the mediation of Jesus Christ, marvelous mediation by His death, brings us to God and peace with God, and also we have obtained our introduction into this grace. The word introduction is actually the word access – access. And again, this is a shift in our very paradigm in which we exist.

We have access. That’s a monumental word. That’s a staggering word. That’s a shocking word. It’s an infinitely wonderful word, to have access to God, to have access into grace. We have access, according to Ephesians 2:18, in one Spirit to the Father. We have access. Chapter 3 of Ephesians, verse 12, “Confident, bold access through faith.” In Hebrews, “We have access to the throne of mercy to find help in time of need.”

All through their history, the one thing that was true for the Jews was no access, no access. God was the utterly unapproachable Holy One, and that was laid down in no uncertain terms. I don’t want to take time to read the whole account but just a little bit of a look (and you can do it on your own) at Exodus chapter 19 indicates to us how inaccessible God was. God appears in a dark, thick cloud in chapter 19 of Exodus, and people are told, basically, don’t go near, don’t even get close.

Verse 21. The Lord spoke to Moses. “Go down, warn the people so that they do not break through to the Lord to gaze and many of them perish.” People cannot come up to Mount Sinai “for you warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds about the mountain and consecrate it.’” So Moses went down to the people and told them, “Don’t get near God.”

The whole Old Testament of offerings is both defined for us in the tabernacle and the temple. Where did God dwell? Well, the presence of God was symbolically in the Holy of Holies, right? In the inner sanctuary. And it was out of bounds for everybody, out of bounds for absolutely everybody.

But even the structure of the temple and the structure of the tabernacle, originally, but particularly the temple had a series of courtyards. Gentiles could only get so close to God, the Court of the Gentiles. Women could only get so close to God, a place called the Court of the Women. Men could get a little closer. Priests could get a little closer with proper cleansing and proper ritual. But anybody who got too close to God was in serious danger. Uzzah got a little too close, touched the Ark, was killed. Nadab and Abihu got too close and they were killed. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram got a little too close and they were killed.

And the high priest, who alone could go into the Holy of Holies one time a year on Yom Kippur, the Day of the Atonement, could only go in after serious ceremonial purification and he would go in there and get out as fast as possible. He had bells on his robe so that they would know if he was still moving around or if he had been struck dead. Access was not a word in the vocabulary of the Jews.

In terms of man’s relationship to a holy God, he had no access. Sinful man, no real access, but Christ’s death forever altered that, and you remember Matthew 27:51 tells us that at the time and the moment that Jesus died, the temple that separated the Holy of Holies was split from top to bottom, and the whole thing was thrown wide open, and all who desired to come were given access.

Now, that’s the richness of that word. Listen to 1 Peter 3:18, “Christ also died for our sins, once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.” In the Jewish concept, that’s a huge idea, bring us into the presence of God.

Now, this is promised in the New Covenant, Jeremiah 32, listen to verses 38 and 40 in Jeremiah 32 where the New Covenant, portions of the New Covenant, are described. “They shall be my people, I will be their God.” They shall be my people, I will be their God. “I will not turn away from them. They shall not depart from me.”

There is, then, in New Covenant salvation an access, an opening into the presence of God. The word access (or introduction here) is a rich word. Secularly, it is used of a harbor, or a haven, a place of safety and security.

Now let’s go back to verse 2 and see what it is to which we have access. I love this. “We have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” When you came to the Lord Jesus Christ, you basically had access to a realm of grace, to a dimension of grace. You now live in grace. You stand engulfed in grace – stand, histēmi, to abide, to be firmly set, fixed, grounded. By the way, the apostle Paul loves this word. He loves this verb. Says in 1 Corinthians 15:1, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preach to you which also you received” – I love this – “in which also you stand.”

We’re not now in this kingdom, moving around, wavering, wobbling, hanging on the edge, sitting on the brink, hoping not to fall off. We abide in a settled, firm, permanent condition of grace. Now, that is so very important. I think you’re beginning to feel, just having me say that, the import of that. If the entire environment in which we live is grace, then it is not law, right? And if it’s grace, it’s not works. If it’s grace, it assumes sin but it provides for it. You’re not in a condition where you, having been saved by grace, now live in law. And so if you obey the law and you’re righteous enough, you hang onto your salvation. No, no, no.

You were ushered by your salvation into a domain of grace, which is the same thing you received when you were saved, and that is undeserved forgiveness – undeserved forgiveness. That’s the realm in which we live. And I’ll tell you, folks, there are those who think for sure that they were saved by grace and now they have to keep saved by law. Not true – not true.

Peter ends his epistle (maybe you’ve forgotten this) with a little doxology, “To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Then he has another thought. “Through Silvanus, our faithful brother, for so I regard him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.” You say, “What if I sin?” Romans 5:20, “Where sin abounds, grace much more” – we live in grace, we stand in grace, we are fixed in grace. Romans 14:4 says, “God is able to make us stand.” He’s anchored us there.

This is the testimony at the end of Jude, the familiar and beloved benediction, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy” – how does He do that? How does He get us there? By grace. Our sins never cancel out our salvation because we live in grace. He is able, He has the power. We are held in safe custody, that’s what the other verb in 1 Peter says. We stand immovable in a realm dominated by grace, which is God’s unmerited favor by which He saves us, makes us righteous, and keeps on cleansing us from all sin. First John.

Now, it’s a horrible thing to tell people, I think, that you were saved by grace and grace alone, but you’re going to live the rest of your life in danger of losing your salvation. If that’s true, then I went from the realm of grace in my salvation to the realm of law in my sanctification. That is not what Scripture teaches. We stand in grace. Never does that change. Since our peace and our access – listen – is purely on the merits of Christ and His work, it is all by grace, we can’t earn it, nor can we maintain it. It is all grace, and grace always forgives and always forgives and always forgives and always forgives – that is its nature, that is its essence.

You know, in Galatians chapter 5 – might look at this for a minute. Galatians chapter 5. You have been severed from Christ – verse 4 – You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law, you’ve fallen from grace. Can’t have both. You’re either saved by grace and kept by grace or saved by law and kept by law. You’re not saved by grace and kept by law.

And I’ve said this through the years. Look, if I have to keep myself saved, I can’t. Put it another way, if I could lose my salvation, I would. I would. And if I could get it back, I’d get it back and lose it again. If it was possible for a believer to lose salvation, every believer would do it. If it’s up to me, I can’t maintain it. I can’t maintain it.

Peter says, “Grow in grace.” We live in grace, we breathe the air of grace, and we grow in grace. The state of salvation is a state of grace, it is Christ’s gracious mediation that brought us in, keeps us in. By grace, all our sins are forgiven – past, present and future. Never in the realm of grace does law play any role at all in keeping us saved.

Jesus in His high priestly prayer in John 17 says, “Holy Father, keep them in your name.” Keep them in your name. Hang onto them. Verse 15, “Keep them from the evil one that they all may be one, even as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us.” Keep them. And we are kept in the realm of grace. We are protected in the realm of grace. Even in Luke 22 when Satan wanted to have Peter, Jesus said, “Go ahead, do what you want to him.” Right? He said, “Peter, he’s going to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not.”

We are upheld by the intercessory prayer of the Lord Jesus, by the intervening power of the Holy Spirit, and I will say this: It is absolutely impossible – utterly unthinkable – that the sentence of the divine Judge should ever be revoked or reversed. There’s no other court of appeal, by the way. There are no appellate courts in the divine realm. God rendered the final verdict, rendered salvation, granted it on the merits of Christ. It cannot be overturned.

Now look at Romans 8 and see that that’s behind the language of that great chapter. Romans 8, verse 28. “God causing all things to work together for good to those that love Him and have been called according to His purpose. God predestining, justifying, glorifying. Verse 31 then says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who’s against us?” Who successfully can be against us? “He didn’t spare His own Son, delivered Him up for us all. How will He not also freely give us all things?”

It all goes back to sufficiency and finality and completion of the work of Christ. “Who can bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who is the one who justifies. Who can condemn? Christ has died, rather died and raised again at the right hand of God, interceding for us.” No one can successfully bring a charge against us, no one can successfully overturn God’s commitment to us. No one can condemn us. No one can separate us from the love of Christ. No one and no thing is able, as verse 39 says, to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is an unspeakable blessing to understand the fullness of our salvation. We live in permanent relationship of peace with God and we live in a permanent state of grace, which overrules all our sin. Romans chapter 8, verse 1, actually began this way, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” No condemnation. There can’t be. No one can condemn, for Christ has paid in full. First Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He will bring it to pass.”

Well, there are four more, but we’ll save them for next time. Join me in a word of prayer.

Our Father, we thank you for the time we’ve had tonight to worship for a little while and then to look at the precious truth of your Word. We just thank you for these two great realities that we live in the realm of settled peace and permanent grace. Thank you that this is a gift, completely a gift, a gift of sovereign love. We don’t want to go any further because we just want to rest in these things and let them soak into our souls. We thank you for them.

Thank you for your mighty work on our behalf, for your great kindness and mercy to us. And we love you in return and we want to love you more and serve you more faithfully and want to spread the Word of grace far and wide.

Help us, then, to enjoy our salvation, to rest in it, for it is called rest to be not troubled or anxious, but to rest in peace and grace. And we know that’s the benediction again and again in the New Testament, grace and peace, grace and peace through our Lord Jesus Christ. And we ask that you would use us to extend that to others, we pray, for your glory. In Christ’s name. Amen.